Principles are importantThe brawl between the pro-Park Geun-hye faction and others over how to nominate the ruling Saenuri Party’s candidates for the April general election raises a serious question about the ruling camp’s responsibility toward national governance. The Park administration faces tough challenges at home and abroad. North Korea continues to provoke the South with nuclear threats. It has even threatened to cancel inter-Korean family reunions that both sides agreed to two months ago to protest Park’s speech at the United Nations.
But ruling party Chairman Kim Moo-sung canceled his entire schedule yesterday in defiance of the presidential office’s disapproval of his suggestion for nominations through a telephone poll of the general public.
The friction over nominations has emerged because Park and Kim didn’t abide by their principles. Ahead of the 2014 local elections, the Saenuri Party adopted a new nomination system in which the general public and party members jointly nominated candidates. The party basically scrapped “strategic nominations” from the top to avert any chance of abuse of power. The party’s victory in the municipal elections owed much to that remarkable shift.
Despite such a background, a war over nomination rules is being waged because lawmakers hold the key to successful governance of the nation as well as picking a promising presidential candidate. The Blue House wants to hold onto its clout through nominations, while Kim is pressing ahead with open primaries in the name of reform and transparency, which he promised in the race for party chairman last year.
To solve the problem, both must go back to their principles. In November 2012, President Park, who was then the presidential candidate of the ruling party, vowed to establish a system for both parties to nominate their own candidates for legislative seats based on simultaneously held open primaries. The core of her idea was to renounce back-room nominations.
But first the Blue House must promise to abandon those back-scratching “strategic nominations.” Otherwise, speculation that Park is trying to wield her influence over the nominations will be unceasing. Kim also must convince his party and the public about why he stepped back from his campaign promise of open primaries to make a deal with the opposition over telephone polls. The president and Kim may be tempted to reinforce their allies, but a return to principles is more important.
JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 2, Page 30
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