Don’t deny the election result

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Don’t deny the election result

The main opposition Democratic Party is attempting to reignite a protest campaign against the results of last year’s presidential election.

“We have to reconsider whether we can accept our defeat [in the December presidential election],” said three-term lawmaker Sul Hoon.

The veteran lawmaker has accused a number of government offices - the National Intelligence Service, the Ministry of National Defense’s Cyber Warfare Command and the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs - of having been mobilized to interfere in the election to help the ruling party candidate, Park Geun-hye. Former DP floor leader Park Jie-won also agreed that the party should seriously look into its stance on the election’s outcome. The two legislators’ comments are sending a common message that the opposition party could question the legitimacy of the elected president.

DP spokesman Chyung Ho-joon said that these comments do not suggest the party is refusing to accept the election results. However, the statements were uttered not by political novices but veteran politicians. While attacking the NIS for its online smear campaign against opposition candidates, the opposition party so far has not questioned the legitimacy of the election outcome for fear of a public backlash.

The DP may be testing the waters amid worsening public opinion toward the involvement of past government offices in the last election. The party is yet to formally file an appeal about the election results, but it may be setting the stage to build public skepticism over the legitimacy of President Park’s victory, which would reverse the formal acceptance in December.

Reversing a stance on an election outcome is unthinkable by a public party in a mature society. Once that becomes an option, there is no turning back. If the DP declares it cannot accept its defeat, it would be crossing the point of no return. The protest would be entirely different from its rallies in the past. It is challenging and questioning a president who has been elected through a majority vote. Does the DP seriously believe its candidate, Moon Jae-in, could have been the president if the NIS had not posted slanderous comments on the Internet?

There is no guarantee that people will support the DP on this issue, even if they endorse the party on a policy level. We cannot afford to look back leisurely on what-ifs, given all the work remaining on economic and security affairs. The DP should not push the country into chaos over a vain fight.

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