Getting off on the right footPresident-elect Park Geun-hye and leaders of both the ruling and opposition parties agreed yesterday to set up a consultative body to discuss national governance. The meeting, aimed at finding bipartisan ways to deal with North Korea’s nuclear threats, achieved better results than expected. Despite uncertainties ahead, the rare meeting carries great significance, particularly given the affirmation of partnerships between both parties and an agreement to cooperate with no strings attached.
As the written agreement is binding, any attempts to deviate from it will face public outrage.
The incoming Park Geun-hye administration has to surmount a number of serious obstacles from the outset - including an imminent nuclear test in North Korea, an ominous economic slowdown due to the weak yen, and ballooning demands for welfare, medical services and employment. Political bipartisanship under such circumstances will be a huge benefit in addressing the challenges ahead.
Considering that political division is the biggest enemy to security, the unseen solidarity of political leaders could help reduce our internal ideological conflicts. The leadership meeting could serve as a stern warning against any misjudgments by the North. It could also empower the government to cooperate with neighboring countries more closely, not to mention easing citizens’ growing anxiety.
In the bipartisan consultative apparatus - a communication channel - Park’s leadership is crucial. She must first employ a flexible attitude toward communicating with the opposition. She vowed to establish a joint meeting of political leaders from both sides, and she must take advantage of that even after her inauguration on Feb. 25.
Korean politics have been inundated with fierce power struggles and massive political scandals. The public is now sick of such costly - and outmoded - politics. That’s why political reform emerged as the hottest topic in the last general and presidential elections. Politicians must concentrate on drawing up policies that improve the lives of ordinary citizens rather than being engrossed in unruly fights. If they agree on policy formulations in the initial stage, unnecessary friction and ungrounded accusations could be substantially reduced.
In a sharp departure from the past, the Democratic United Party gladly accepted the president-elect’s offer of a meeting to cope with Pyongyang’s nuclear threats. We hope the parties continue to work together; this is the most obvious shortcut to overcoming factionalism.