Staking it allMoon Jae-in, head of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), has offered to step down if the party does not approve electoral reforms measures on Sept. 16. He also vowed to hold a personal no-confidence vote.
After a landslide defeat in the April by-elections, Moon pledged to restore leadership and the party’s reputation through reinvention. His reform committee trotted out 10 reform measures, but none gained party support. Moon also lost face and raised questions about his will for reform when he suggested increasing the number of legislative seats and defended party heavyweight and former Prime Minister Han Myeong-sook, who was convicted of accepting bribes, and Rep. Yoon Hu-duk, accused of using his influence to get his daughter a job.
As the poor approval rating of 20 percent suggests, the NPAD has lost public confidence. Instead of performing the role of the opposition party, which is to keep the ruling power in check via alternative policy directions, it has been associated with an endless number of power struggles, scandals and knee-jerk reactions. Even the party is skeptical that it can win 100 seats in the next election.
The party is on the brink of a breakup, and Moon has no other option to unite the party but to gamble his title. Even if he wins the confidence vote, it’s unclear if he can persuade minority members to agree to a new nomination procedure that has been criticized for benefitting the mainstream faction.
It is unfortunate that the leader of the main opposition has to seek a confidence vote after just seven months in office. He said the vote of confidence will be decided half by party member votes and the rest from polls. But poll results have been controversial because they could easily be distorted. In order to not make the vote controversial, Moon must come up with a procedure that is unquestionably fair and transparent. Whatever the result, both Moon and nonmainstream factions must respect the outcome. Democracy is at stake if there is no strong opposition to watch and rein in the ruling power. We hope Moon could end the house fight once and for all and reinvent the opposition.
JoongAng Ilbo, Sept. 10, Page 34.