Pay heed to allies’ voices, too

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Pay heed to allies’ voices, too

The Unified Progressive Party is a divided house over the massive primary rigging scandal. The Gyeonggi Dongbu Alliance, led by co-Chairperson Lee Jung-hee, is refusing to step down for disgracing the party and the liberal camp, drawing fierce protest from other factions.

The party’s mainstreamers claim that the findings by an internal investigation on the vote rigging committed during the March primary to elect candidates for proportional representatives was a conspiracy against them. They denied any wrongdoings and argued that they were being victimized by the conservative media - and for political purposes. Their self-serving justification was employed against their critical colleagues as well. They attacked the investigation committee as a “spy group feigning as comrades.” Lee insisted that the report was false.

The faction is further alienating itself by resorting to self-denial. Even the supporters of the liberal forces are joining the chorus of criticism. Joo Dae-hwan, co-head of the Social Democracy Network who served as an executive member of the Democratic Labor Party, said that the UPP’s mainstream faction is preoccupied with a “black-and-white theory. They believe that they are justified to do anything.”

Sonn Ho-chul, a liberal-leaning professor of Sogang University, said in an article that the more the group resists the internal probe’s report, the more it underscores its immorality. Labor activists are equally disapproving. Kim Jin-sook, the heroine of the crane-top protest against layoffs on Hanjin shipyard, pointed out that the people in the labor movement are restless and weary due to the fight within the liberal party.

Election irregularities committed by a liberal party are nothing new. They have just been hushed and covered up by their ideological justification. But the UPP is now the third-largest party in the National Assembly and no longer remains on the periphery of politics. The irregularities were committed to select proportional representatives to serve the people, not the party.

Therefore, the problems are not limited to the party and the small liberal community, but concern the entire country’s political dynamics. The debate is not a political one between liberals and conservatives, but a censure against irrationality and anti-democratic actions. The party’s main faction should shake off its old habits from underground days. The world has changed. It must pay heed to the critical voices of its friends as well as foes.

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