Where are the new faces?The ruling and opposition parties plan to elect party leaders including heads and floor leaders by early June. Voters expect both sides to realign their leadership to reflect a greater will for political reform in time for the start of the 19th National Assembly. But the names we have so far heard are the same old names. It is true that multiterm legislators have been chosen by the people, but looking at their histories and past behaviors, our hopes for a different direction in politics and governance have been dashed. Why is it that Korean politics is so short of new faces?
Saenuri Party floor leader Hwang Woo-yeo expressed his bid for the ruling party chairmanship. But he is blamed for derailing the last session of the incumbent National Assembly by reversing his promise to approve a legislative reform bill and clashing with the opposition. As several political heavyweights close to Saenuri Party’s interim leader Park Geun-hye announced that they will not run for party leadership positions, the party is fielding veteran hacks who failed to get nominated or who lost in the April 11 legislative election. When it was the Grand National Party, it suffered from a lack of leadership, and the mainstream lawmakers had to recruit an outsider for the top leadership position.
The main opposition Democratic United Party, where loyalists to former President Roh Moo-hyun now dominate the mainstream, is intent on making Lee Hae-chan, former prime minister in the Roh administration, its party leader and Park Jie-won, closest confidante of the late President Kim Dae-jung, its floor leader. Lee stepped down as prime minister because he was playing golf on Arbor Day when a major wildfire broke out and spread in Gangwon Province. Park served time for taking illegal funds from a large business group. He often caused political stalemates by attacking the ruling party with various groundless claims.
People are the life of political parties. That is why the process of electing leaders and nominating candidates for elections is so important. The leadership should not be an exclusive club for the old guard. New generation politicians should also be given a chance to test their potential. Even with little experience, new faces with integrity on political reform should be invited to run for positions. We hope to see new faces this time instead of the old ones who represent the old ways. We urge them to summon the will to leave the sidelines and get onto the central political stage.
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