DUP should change tack

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DUP should change tack

Han Gwang-ok, who served as chief of staff for President Kim Dae-jung, announced that he would leave the main opposition Democratic United Party. The veteran politician was excluded from nomination to run from Gwangak A District, Seoul, in the April 11 legislative election. “A DUP with rampant foul play cannot become the people’s choice,” he gave as reason to leave the party. He may be holding a grudge for the nomination’s cold-shoulder.

Han was delisted because he had a criminal record for receiving bribes. However, Lee Bu-young - who was also found guilty in a bribery case - won a bid for Gangdong A District, Seoul, from the nomination committee. The main difference in qualifications was that Han came from the Kim Dae-jung administration and Lee from the Uri Party, which was the ruling party during President Roh Moo-hyun’s term.

Similar cases are plentiful: Among former lawmakers, loyalists to Roh or old members of the Uri Party won nominations almost without exception, while those from the Kim Dae-jung administration or his Democratic Party did not.

DUP head Han Myeong-sook - who graduated from Ewha Womans University - favored her old classmates in nominations despite raising scorn for placing her college alumni in key party offices. Park Jie-won, a DUP lawmaker loyal to the late President Kim Dae-jung, recently pointed out that the party is under fire for eliminating former DP members and excessive favoritism over Roh loyalists and school peers.

The list of nominated candidates from the main opposition appears disappointing. It had no principle, traces of reform or inspiration. The party had vowed to reinvent itself, but none of its current lawmakers were excluded from nomination. Among the 10 newly recruited candidates, none appears to stand out with most of them coming from the judiciary field.

The problem basically results from the party’s arrogance. The party seems to believe that it can win the April election with its old members and the same old tricks because the incumbent conservative government is too unpopular.

The leadership has decided not to nominate a candidate in the Dong District of Gwangju City, where an organizer involved in illegal campaign recruiting committed suicide. The party left other contentious regions untouched. Such a poor selection of candidates could backfire any time soon. The ruling party has already started to get ahead in the polls conducted after the DUP’s nomination results. The DUP is headed for trouble if it does not change its nomination strategy.

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