Wait for court’s judgmentThe Ministry of Justice has requested a judgment from the Constitutional Court on the legitimacy of its call for the dissolution of the Unified Progressive Party. The far-leftist party has been criticized for various activities threatening our democracy. But criticizing a political party and disbanding it are totally separate issues. Conditions for dissolving a political party are clearly defined in our Constitution - that is, when the goals or activities of a political party go against our democratic order. However, controversies are inevitable over the goals and activities of political entities.
In the realm of activities, the justice ministry argues the UPP violated the very principle of democracy because a core faction of the party was involved in a “revolutionary organization” led by Representative Lee Seok-ki in a conspiracy to stage a rebellion against the state. In a May meeting, for instance, participants discussed terrorist attacks against state-controlled facilities.
However, opponents rebut that argument by saying the rebellion conspiracy charges await a court judgment and that even if the court hands down a guilty verdict, it’s difficult to hold the entire party accountable for some members’ activities. But others argue the meeting constitutes a clear violation of the democratic order because some members discussed terrorist attacks against the state.
The party has been receiving a 2.7 billion-won ($2.54 million won) subsidy each year. As the court speeds up its deliberations on Lee’s case, which will be followed by a Constitutional Court judgment, it’s better to end the unnecessary fight over the timing of requesting a constitutional decision.
In the domain of goals of political parties, more controversies await. The justice ministry thinks that the “progressive democracy” upheld by the UPP is actually the founding ideology of North Korea. The ministry maintains that its populace-based democracy goes against the principle of popular sovereignty specified in our constitution. Opponents, however, contend that’s only a matter of political expression permitted in our democracy.
The UPP’s leftist party platform and pro-North Korea inclinations existed even before the Lee case and the party had a strategic coalition with the main opposition Democratic Party during last year’s general elections and won eight seats in the National Assembly. The ministry’s call for a constitutional judgment is a critical litmus test for our country.