In hope of an Ahn-inspired rebootAhn Cheol-soo is apparently done thinking. A spokesman for the software mogul and dean of Seoul National University’s graduate school said he will announce whether he will run in the presidential election after the main opposition Democratic United Party elects its candidate. Ahn may have thought hard about whether he is ready to shoulder the burden of governing the country and whether he can live up to the expectations people have of him. Nonetheless, his protracted brooding is generating confusion, with the upcoming election now being mocked for what it lacks: intensity, opposition and serious platforms.
Ahn is likely to declare his position between Monday and 29, before the annual Chuseok, or harvest, holiday begins. Hopefully, this will pave the way for some proper campaigning, including vigorous debates on policies and insightful explorations of the candidates’ strengths and weaknesses.
Whatever choice Ahn makes, we hope he has considered some of these issues before he makes up his mind.
First, we hope he won’t resort to the tried-and-tested formula of mudslinging and populism. Democratically, the nation has made great strides since 1987, but the strategy of defeating rivals by whatever means has long cast a shadow over Korean politics. Elections have usually boiled down to wars between opposing parties, rather than contests between individual candidates and their policies. Ahn, who has spent most of his career in science labs and engaged in business administration, remains hugely popular among voters despite his lack of political experience. This is largely because the public is both wary of, and frustrated by, elections marked by ideological strife and cutthroat animosity. If Ahn enters the political circle, we hope he caters to the entire population, not just those who support him. Any discussions of teaming up with the main opposition party to consolidate his support base should be conducted transparently, with national interests, the needs of the public and political ethics all put on pedestals.
If he decides to run, Ahn must clarify who will be on his team. Ahn has erred in this area in the past and must make amends by unveiling a list of people with whom he plans to govern the country. Finally, he needs to assume the role required of a political power player. He must use the clear-cut language of a leader.
Ahn should not forget that is running for a post that will make him responsible for a strong nation of 50 million people. He should leave all his enigmatic airs behind.