Looking for change in the DUPIn a rare lengthy self-review, the main opposition Democratic United Party blamed itself for its defeat in the last presidential election. The 364-page review over 78 days looked back at the last 15 years of a party on a confused and wandering path.
The review assessed that the party as well as its presidential candidate Moon Jae-in lost to their rival Saenuri Party and its candidate Park Geun-hye in terms of readiness and strategy. Poor leadership of party executives, factional disputes and the party’s inactivity all played a part in losing public favor. Candidate Moon also was lacking in political capabilities and decisiveness, the review said.
In addition, the report pointed out that the leadership confused the party and their social activities and therefore was too distracted to concentrate on pending public issues. For example, the report cited the DUP’s knee-jerk opposition to the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement as its worst moment. The critical self-review has a remarkably frank and accurate tone. Some of its conclusions and prescriptions, however, are still lacking.
The report urged the party to put an end to the exhaustive power struggle and instead unite, putting the blame largely on the faction loyal to late President Roh Moo-hyun. It cited a poll that held former prime minister Han Myeong-sook, party head Lee Hae-chan, floor-leader Park Jie-won, Moon Jae-in and Moon Sung-keun - a member of the party’s supreme council - all accountable for the election defeat.
It said that presidential candidate Moon Jae-in had been too quiet during crucial moments and criticized the party and its leaders for lacking a sense of responsibility. “Responsibility is a noble characteristic demanded of a leader,” the report pointed out. The party failed in its push for reforms and to work for the people. But the report nevertheless said that the DUP did not lose because it went “too left” during the campaign.
Signs of factional conflict are brewing in the party ahead of the May convention to select new leadership. The report could be used to attack opponents instead of self improvement. We hope that the opposition party will put the report to constructive use to revamp and set it on a new path.