A childish refusal to play

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A childish refusal to play

The ruling Saenuri Party’s primary for the December presidential election had turned sour after three minor candidates against the front-runner Park Geun-hye initially refused to participate in the party’s nomination race over alleged party leadership involvement in receiving money from Hyun Young-hee, a Saenuri proportional representative, in return for her seat at the National Assembly ahead of the April 11 legislative election. The three anti-Park candidates called for the resignation of party’s Chairman Hwang Woo-yea, a party-level investigation into the scam and a full disclosure of nomination documents on regional candidates. The agreement was met yesterday evening normalizing the primary election as scheduled on the condition that Hwang would resign should the allegation be proven true after the probe.

All the fuss over proportional representatives’ illegal donation is attributed to former Sanuri Party lawmaker Hyun Ki-hwan, who served as a member of the nomination committee at the time of the April election, and it has nothing to do with nominations for district representatives. The Saenuri Party already asked the prosecutor to launch a thorough investigation. Moreover, Hwang at the time served as floor leader and a member of the emergency council of the party, with no direct relation to the corruption.

A presidential primary - particularly for the ruling party - should be one of the most democratic competitions in our society. How the party handles the event is a barometer of its ability to govern. Therefore, the ruling party must set an example where all of the candidates follow the prescribed rules of the party.

But the ruling party’s nomination race has been a substandard, off-the-track contest from the outset. Some of the party’s nonmainstream faction even insisted that party leadership change the rules - from an in-house contest to an all inclusive one where voters across the nation can take part. After their demands were not met, two candidates - Chung Mong-joon and Lee Jae-oh - dropped out of the race. Though the two candidates’ demands could not be justified, the three anti-Park alliance candidates’ refusal to participate in the primary race was far worse.

If politicians cannot even hold their primary to select a presidential candidate smoothly, how would they lead the nation in a time of crisis? Any attempt to take advantage of a party’s problems for individual political gain would also wreak havoc on the party’s credibility.

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