End controversial nominationsThe ruling Saenuri Party and main opposition Democratic United Party called off more than a handful of nominees for the April legislative election before registering as candidates. The chain cancellation underscored oversight in the nomination process by the two parties despite their promise of fair and progressive selections.
The Saenuri Party dropped its nominees for Gangnam A and B districts in southern Seoul and is considering the same move in several constituencies in Gyeongju and other areas. Nominees for the Gangnam districts were handpicked regardless of questions over their ethics. Lee Young-jo, the ruling party’s choice for the Gangnam B District, came under fire for his report as a the head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for describing the Jeju Uprising (April 3, 1948) and the Gwangju Democratization Movement (May 18, 1980) as Communist-led rebellions. The ruling party’s nomination committee pushed ahead despite the controversy because it may have considered the wealthy neighborhood an easy win no matter who it fields.
The party had also been equally slack in nominating Park Sang-il for Gangnam A District despite the controversial description of independent activists in his book. The two districts should have represented strengths of the conservative party, but they failed to come up with formidable candidates. The nominee for Gyeongju and some other areas have also become questionable in terms of their ethical qualifications.
The liberal DUP has also disappointed in its selection of nominees. Lim Jong-seok, the party’s secretary general, had to forsake his nomination for Seongdong B District in eastern Seoul after he was found guilty in his first trial for violating a political funding law. Nominations for former lawmaker Lee Hwa-young in Gangwon and Jeon Hye-sook for Gwangjin B District in eastern Seoul were also scrapped because of bribery charges. The main opposition called off their nominations amid mounting criticism over favoritism for the nominees who are close to the party leadership.
Nominations are the faces of the political parties. Their profiles reflect the parties’ judgment and vision. Voters are unlucky to have to choose among the current lineup. In many constituencies, voters will have to choose the lesser of two evils, instead of voting enthusiastically. The parties still have a chance to offer better choices. They must withdraw all the controversial figures and replace them with better candidates.