A party gets down and dirty

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A party gets down and dirty

We are dumbfounded by the scope of the unethical irregularities that occurred in the opposition Unified Progressive Party’s primary to select some of its proportional representatives to the National Assembly.

We have to wonder if it is qualified to continue to exist as a legitimate political party. What’s more stunning is the leadership’s action - or lack of it - after it admitted that the March primary was rigged.

The primary was a complete scam way beyond lax management in the online voting and at the party’s polling stations. To describe the problems as mere oversight issues underscores the party’s leadership obliviousness to basic democratic procedures and principles.

Democratic societies license all political activities by registered parties. But they must abide by the basic rules.

Parties should respect agreed-upon democratic procedures and commit themselves to a sense of fair competition. These are the nuts and bolts required of any political party, whether it be liberal or conservative.

But the UPP, which claims to represent the liberal side, shunned these basic rules. It acted like an underground student activist group conspiring to rebel against a military dictatorship. A dictator doesn’t play by rules; neither does it.

It wants to justify its breaking of the law by saying it fights against unjust political power. The leaders of the party who were student activists have not outgrown their sensibilities of three decades ago.

Lee Jung-hee, who shares leadership with two others, opposed the resignation of the six proportional representatives.

She also said the report by an internal investigation team had been overblown even as the head of the party’s election committee confessed that the initial findings may be the tip of an iceberg. Lee is losing face herself and tarnishing her party by criticizing its own investigators for exposing wrongdoings.

A party is not worthy of public trust if it commits wrongdoings and defiantly refuses to repent.

It is especially betraying voters who supported its candidates during the April 11 election. It is even criticized by its major support base, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions.

If it keeps this up, it won’t have any supporters left. The party must start afresh. All the proportional representatives and leadership must step down.

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