Submit the case to prosecutorsThe Unified Progressive Party has emerged as the third-largest party with a total of 13 seats, including six proportional representatives, after the April 11 legislative election since forming a successful coalition with other left-wing forces. With the remarkable achievement, the UPP could tip the balance in the December presidential election and afterwards, if the opposition camp can produce a unified presidential candidate. But the party faces a serious crisis since its merge five months ago as it turned out to have engaged in massive corruption in the nomination race for proportional representatives.
A fact-finding committee of the party defined the corruption as a colossal election fraud stemming from a lack of management skills. In the mid-March nomination race where 41,000 party members participated, 85 percent voted online, while 15 percent cast their ballots in polling booths. According to the committee, voters were allowed to see the results of the Internet-based voting six times while the vote was going on. The number of ballots and voters also didn’t match in several polling stations.
Before the legislative election, the UPP was expected to obtain at least five seats from proportional candidates. Therefore, assigning three candidates from the mainstream faction to the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 places on the roster almost guaranteed a seat in the National Assembly.
As a matter of fact, when former National Assembly speaker Park Hee-tae distributed money envelopes to his colleagues to be elected as chairman of the ruling Grand National Party (now the Saenuri Party), it was about a race inside the party, not a nomination race for seats in the National Assembly. Yet the opposition camp, including the then-Progressive Party, vehemently called for an investigation by the prosecution and Park accepted it and bowed out.
The fact-finding committee has urged the disciplinary committee of the UPP to take over the case after concluding that it originated from mismanagement of the race, not intentional misbehavior. A problem of this magnitude, however, must be handled by the prosecution rather than the UPP. Otherwise, it could most likely trigger an accusation by the nonmainstream faction and civic groups to the prosecution. Regardless of conservatives or liberals, morality is the lifeline of a political group. When they lose it, their arguments about our economy, North Korea and welfare lose any persuasion.
The crisis of the UPP began with whistle-blowing by an insider. More than a few members of the party, however, were aware of it, but remained quiet. That’s not the way for a progressive party - which has been so proud of its morality - to behave.