Toward more mature TV debates

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Toward more mature TV debates

The election law revision proposed by the National Election Commission can prevent a repeat of the weirdness that occurred during the debates ahead of the last election. At the time, Lee Jung-hee of the splinter opposition Unified Progressive Party entirely spoiled the debate with her signature smears against other candidates - even with less than 1 percent support from voters.

After the fiasco, the commission intends to introduce a “cutoff system” based on opinion polls for TV debates for presidential and large-scale local elections. All candidates would be able to participate in the first TV debate, but only those with more than 10 percent support would be allowed in the second. And then only the top two candidates would be invited to a two-way debate.

We cannot repeat the embarrassing debate from the last election in which Lee was allocated the same amount of time as her two rivals. While enjoying such a privilege, Lee went so far as to pollute and disrupt the otherwise healthy debate with her substandard political comments ranging from derogatory remarks to slander. The proposed revision will definitely help reveal the candidates’ qualifications by effectively raising the intensity of debate. We appreciate the commission’s efforts to reflect people’s strong voices demanding a drastic revamp of election law.

The commission also proposed that the media and other civic groups grade the platforms of the candidates and political parties through comparison and that the press organize a conversation or debate with candidates. The commission also came up with the idea of allowing the media to express their political opinions about candidates or policies on a regular basis except on Election Day. We welcome the commission’s decision to change our election culture bent on regulation.

Now the ball is in the National Assembly’s court. The Special Committee on Political Reform must immediately start to discuss the revisions to hopefully finish legislation within this year as the next local election will be held in a year.

The political reform the ruling and opposition parties vow to achieve at every election season is not that remote.

As they say, the first step always begins with a small one.
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