Drastic revamp needed for UPPThe crisis at the left-wing Unified Progressive Party deepened as members vow to desert the party after it failed to expel two lawmakers involved in a controversy over primary-rigging and pro-North Korean ideology. The deserters said they lost hope in the party, the third largest in the National Assembly following the April legislative election. The series of disappointments, scandals and poor leadership at the party can jeopardize overall confidence in liberal and progressive politicians who joined mainstream politics from the 2004 legislative election.
The vote to kick out two scandal-smeared lawmakers, Lee Seok-gi and Kim Jae-yeon, flopped mainly because a supposedly neutral party legislator had upset the leadership by endorsing her two pro-North Korean peers in an intraparty vote. The single vote epitomizes the identity of the party - still deeply loyal to an outdated ideology of national liberation and blindly pursuing the goal of uniting the country through nationalistic and socialist ideas.
The party under new leadership of Kang Ki-kab promised to reinvent the embattled party, which was under fire for both irregularities in its primary in March and also intraparty violence and comments and actions denying the legitimacy of the Constitution and the South Korean government. The upset in the vote may have been the real intention by the extreme left-wing faction to steal control of the party. Lee called the vote of disapproval on his expulsion a “triumph for the truth and for liberals.” It may have been what the UPP stood for all along.
But what the party presents itself as today can hardly be accepted as a legitimate political party. First of all, the party has nominated legislators through irregular and undemocratic procedures. Second, it shows no real sense of repentance or any ability to reform itself. Thirdly, it overthrew democratic procedures in favor of physical violence. Fourth, it failed to keep its promises to the people. This supposedly progressive party lacks any indicator of coming around to reality. It seems to be defined by conflict at this stage. It may bring down the entire liberal political front.
Because it lacks the ability to save itself, outside interference may be inevitable. The ruling Saenuri Party and main opposition Democratic United Party must proceed with a review of the two problematic lawmakers as planned. If left unattended, the entire political system could lose public confidence.