Revamping liberal politicsAn emergency leadership committee was set up in the battered Unified Progressive Party yesterday through an online vote, which was pushed by the non-mainstream faction as the Central Steering Committee was shut down due to the violence of the mainstream faction. Kang Ki-kab, chairman of the emergency committee, vowed that he will do his best to reform the party. However, a difficult path awaits.
The majority faction’s resistance against the emergency committee cannot be allowed. It goes way beyond a democratic process by brazenly dismissing the results of the online vote and refusing to recognize leadership from the non-mainstream faction. They have lost people’s trust because they don’t even admit to the massive vote-rigging in a primary to select proportional representatives for the April 11 legislative election. Their violence at the Central Steering Committee meeting, which was held to censure the election fraud, is tantamount to negation of democracy.
Almost all of the civic groups which support liberal politics criticize the mainstreamers’ erratic behavior. The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, a financial sponsor of the UPP, made public its position that the shameful violence of the main faction cannot be forgiven no matter what and those who turned to violence must be punished. The faction has not only destroyed the cause and morality of progressive politics but also crippled the very foundation of liberalism.
With the launch of an emergency committee, all of the proportional representatives-elect have bowed out. We welcome their decision. Now the party must totally revamp the way it has been run. The majority faction must cooperate to avert a situation where proportional representatives who were elected thanks to vote rigging enter the 19th National Assembly. If they reject the resignation buoyed by mainstreamers’ lawsuits, there is practically no way to force them to step down, so the faction must yield in order to preserve the principle of democracy.
Efforts to revitalize the party should begin with a thorough self-reflection. As liberalism is needed for the advancement of party politics and democracy, it must recover its original role of representing the underprivileged. So far, our liberal forces have shied away from that innate function amid the wasteful power struggle among factions. They should be reborn as a progressive party befitting the political topography of the 21st century, departing from outmoded ideologies exemplified by juche (self-reliance) followers. The emergency committee must help the party march toward a better future.