An ugly in-house fight
The main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy will select a new leader on Feb. 8 at its national convention, but the event is drawing disgruntlement, not interest, from the public. During a televised debate hosted by JTBC, the two major contestants Moon Jae-in and Park Jie-won were busy throwing dirt at one another and using harsh and malicious language. The two sides violently wrangled over the voting rules just five days ahead of the national convention. Their behaviors do not befit their reputations as chiefs of staff to Presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun or as a floor leader and presidential candidate.
On their monthlong nationwide campaign trail, the candidates showed few signs of reliable leadership, vision to rebuild the nation or the challenging spirits of opposition leaders. They did not speak about the economy, welfare or reform. Instead they dug up outdated populist terms like “pro-Roh lineage” and the “backbone of Honam,” in reference to former President Kim. They demonstrated greedy ambition to have their faction gain the upper hand in the party and an advantageous position in winning elections. They displayed little care for the interests of the people whose lives are becoming more difficult due to the prolonged economic slowdown. The primary to select the leader of the main opposition party, which has130 representatives in the legislature, cannot even be compared to an elementary-school classroom election.
It is no wonder that the party’s approval rating is stuck in the 20 percent range, despite the declining popularity of and resentment towards the ruling party and the government over various policy flops. Though they have turned their back on the president, the people are equally disinterested in the opposition party convention because the party has neither the will nor interest in improving welfare of the people and country. It doesn’t seem to matter who wins the race. Unless the party separates itself from its habitual factional divide, the ugly in-house fight will continue over nominations for next year’s general elections and it will win little support from voters.
The party may be pleased with the deteriorating popularity of President Park Geun-hye. But it has problems of its own to worry about. It should seriously ponder upon why the public is more interested in the ruling party’s race to select a floor leader instead of its national convention. The party could forever lose its chance to regain power and public support if it doesn’t get its act together.
JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 4, Page 34