Moon’s challenges ahead
Moon Jae-in, former presidential candidate and close confidant of the late President Roh Moo-hyun, has been elected to head the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD). He returns to the center stage of mainstream politics after he was defeated by President Park Geun-hye in the 2012 election. Of the five top senior posts in the party, three were filled by loyalists to Roh and now the top post in the main opposition has been returned to the Roh faction.
The future of the new leadership does not look good. It must patch up the deep and wide fissures in the party that were exposed during the most recent primary. Moon narrowly beat his main rival Park Jie-won by a margin of 3.5 percentage points. The neck-and-neck race underscores the differences between the two, who represent the longstanding rival faction in the liberal party. It is now up to Lee to unite the party and normalize its operations and leadership, which have been faltering since the party lost big in the July by-elections.
On the campaign trail, Moon promised to turn his party into a melting pot. He said he will create a party that incorporates the merits of people-first politics from Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, new political directions from NPAD Co-Chairman Ahn Cheol-soo and decentralization politics from South Chuncheong Gov. Ahn Hee-jung, as well as the nationwide appeal of the party’s former Daegu mayoral candidate, Kim Boo-kyum. He must take advice from the emergency council head and engage a broad range of people instead of only those he is familiar with.
In his acceptance speech, Moon said he will lead the party to success in the next general and presidential elections. He also said he will pay respect to former President Park Chung Hee. He was criticized for being biased and for insulting former President Park, the father of Park Geun-hye, while paying respect to past presidents when he was a presidential candidate.
We hope to see the main opposition grow out of knee-jerk opposition under its new leadership. The government is dysfunctional in many ways under President Park Geun-hye. The economy shows little sign of improving and the government has proposed one disappointing policy after another. Reforms of taxes, government employees’ pensions, the labor market, and welfare are at a stalemate. The role of main opposition party is crucial. It must provide practical and workable solutions to compete with the ruling party on policies. It lost in the last elections because it was too caught up in a one-sided ideology. JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 9, Page 34