Return to normalFed up with constant political cat-fights among politicians, the public’s expectation for a change in the political arena has been growing. The results of the by-elections on Tuesday and President Park Geun-hye’s breaking of her long silence on the suspicious government-level intervention in last year’s presidential election have finally shed some light on the political stalemate.
Park vowed to “clear all the suspicions firmly based on the law, hold those involved accountable and come up with ways to prevent any such recurrence.” The president also said she will not allow any public servant to violate the required political neutrality from now on. Her pledges of a thorough investigation into the allegations, punishment of those involved and prevention of such intervention in the future demonstrate her serious grasp of the situation.
Aides to the president had expressed concerns about the possibility of the Democratic Party trying rejecting the presidential election results. But the president has reached the conclusion that she can overcome the opposition through thorough investigations. Park must keep her promise.
The opposition camp should welcome it as they have wrung as much political gains as they can from the scandal despite the absence of a presidential apology or dismissal of heads of state organizations involved. It is simply not right for an incumbent president to apologize for what happened during previous administrations or fire organization chiefs in the middle of investigations and trials.
The DP’s crushing defeat in the two by-elections for legislative seats also provided momentum for political change. Considering its defeat in last year’s general and presidential elections, the party has lost the last four elections in a row. That means the DP failed to earn the people’s confidence - particularly after Chairman Kim Han-gill led outdoor rallies since taking the helm of the embattled party under the banner of “rational politics.”
The opposition’s presidential candidate from last year, Moon Jae-in, said last year election’s was an “unfair election” and a group of first-term lawmakers called for the resignation of the cabinet. We think those actions led to the party’s crushing defeat on Wednesday. Even though voters sympathized with the DP’s allegations about the National Intelligence Service’s suspicious political activities, most didn’t relate it to the legitimacy of the election. The DP’s leadership must find a way out of their defeat from the extreme politics they play. The people are now utterly fatigued with their combative politics. It’s time to return to normal politics.