Still an immature democracy

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Still an immature democracy

The clumsy way the main opposition Democratic United Party conducts its primary vividly shows the backwardness of Korea’s party politics. No doubt the race to pick a presidential candidate should be one of the greatest political festivals for any political party. Yet in the earlier nomination race of the ruling Saenuri Party, three candidates - Kim Moon-soo, Yim Tae-hee and Kim Tae-ho - had all refused to participate for several days over lingering suspicion on a nomination-for-money scandal. In the DUP, too, three presidential contenders - Sohn Hak-kyu, Kim Doo-kwan and Chung Sye-kyun - declined to take part in a primary in the city of Ulsan.

During the DUP primaries on Jeju Island and in Ulsan, it all began with problems with mobile votes. The party annulled all of the mobile votes cast before the message informed voters of all four candidates’ names. The three non-Moon candidates raised the strong possibility that those who had already cast ballots before listening to the introduction of the No. 4 contender, Moon, were not reflected in the final vote count. Now the three candidates threatened to veto the primary, demanding a new mobile vote.

We believe that some of the mobile votes for the three candidates could in fact have been invalidated, because even though the guideline requested voters to cast their ballots after listening to the message to the end, it didn’t mention a nullification of votes otherwise. The disturbance could have been averted if the party had guided mobile voters more carefully.

However, it is wrong for the three non-Moon candidates to raise an objection citing a fairness issue. The party’s guidelines on how to invalidate improper votes was agreed to by all four candidates before picking their numbers. And the problem could occur to whomever picked No. 4.

The DUP said that it can conduct a revote for only those mobile votes as a last resort. But a move to demand an all-out revote by vetoing the crucial process can hardly be persuasive as it is nothing but a political offensive aimed at transforming a technical issue into a controversy over fairness.

This is the fourth time the DUP has used mobile voting. Yet a new series of problems ensues, from registration of the electoral college to voting and again to the ballot-counting system. The party must not leave a blemish on the foremost process of choosing its presidential candidate. Considering the ruckus in nomination races, the ruling and opposition parties are still in a primitive stage of democracy when it comes to picking their candidates.
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