UPP’s Lee flakes outThe splinter Unified Progressive Party’s presidential candidate Lee Jung-hee has announced that she decided to drop out of the race. Her move epitomizes the kind of irresponsible action that threatens the very foundation of an elective democracy. The party received 2.7 billion won ($2.5 million) in subsidies from the National Election Commission for Lee’s campaign for the Dec. 19 election after she officially registered her presidential bid. She should have finished the race. Otherwise, she should not have registered a candidacy.
Lee’s last-minute departure constitutes a violation of the election law. To avert such an irresponsible act, the ruling Saenuri Party already proposed a bill banning candidates from taking government subsidies before withdrawing from the race. The bill should be passed in the National Assembly.
From the moment of announcing her presidential bid to the moment of her resignation, Lee has desecrated all democratic values. In the April legislative elections, she was nominated as a single candidate for the Gwanak B District in southern Seoul after collaborating with the main opposition Democratic United Party. After her aides turned out to have manipulated the results of an opinion poll in the process of selecting a single candidate to represent the liberal camp, Lee withdrew her candidacy. The three aides involved in the scam are under arrest.
Even after joining the presidential race, Lee’s campaign was anything but normal. In the first and second three-way debates with Park Geun-hye of the ruling Saenuri Party and Moon Jae-in of the DUP, she was able to get exactly the same amount of air time as the other candidates despite her party’s conspicuously lower support - less than 1 percent of voters. She nearly derailed the debates by resorting to reckless attacks, lopsided denouncements and radical offenses against Park, not to mention her strategy of not discussing sensitive issues. The audience was transfixed by a maverick, who has no chance of winning, stealing the show. The ruling and opposition camps must devise an effective solution to stop such aberrant behavior during such important debates.
The UPP supports a pullout of U.S. forces from Korea and the abolition of the National Security Law. The far-left party split into two after the April legislative elections because of one faction’s pro-North Korea ideology. Some members of the party still deny the legitimacy of our national anthem.
The DUP seeks a grand coalition with any groups that support the change of government. Moon must say whether Lee’s party is included.