Kim should keep his governorshipAfter Gyeonggi Governor Kim Moon-soo announced yesterday that he will run for president, attention has turned to whether or not he will resign from his governorship. Kim admitted that his potential resignation to enter the race for nomination in the ruling Saenuri Party would have its consequences. If he does not resign, he will face the criticism that he is taking advantage of his governorship for the sake of the presidential race, while neglecting his role as the governor of Korea’s most populous province. If he decides to resign, a by-election will be held on Dec. 19, the day of the presidential election, leaving the post in relative uncertainty for months.
Elected officials’ resignation during their terms has long been a hot issue in Korea. Even though they don’t have to step down from their posts, it occurs often.
After former Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon resigned after a failed referendum on free school lunches last year, however, the city suffered from a waste of the budget and a loss of leadership, not to mention the massive political conflict that broke out. South Gyeongsang Governor Kim Doo-kwan will face similar problems when he decides to enter the presidential race for the opposition Democratic United Party.
The election law allows heads of local governments to keep their incumbent posts when they participate in a party nomination race for president. But when they run for president or another office, they are obliged to resign from their posts 90 days before the registration of their candidacy as it can affect their obligations as governor or mayor.
Elected officials need to complete their terms so that their original campaign promises can be implemented, administrative consistency is maintained and expensive by-elections are avoided. Of course, a political party’s official candidate for president or lawmaker needs to resign from the incumbent post, as their candidacy will likely affect their current jobs. In case of a party nomination race, however, resignation is unnecessary as it will not greatly affect candidates’ current jobs. Both Kim Moon-soo and Kim Doo-kwan pledged to not resign from their governorship in the gubernatorial elections two years ago.
If Governor Kim Moon-soo keeps his post during the party’s nomination race for president, he needs to minimize the impact on his governorship. And our society should refrain from attacking his retainment of the position. The same applies to all potential presidential hopefuls.