Tackling economic challengesThe Minjoo Party of Korea, disbanding the campaign team following its surprise election victory to take the largest number of seats in the 20th National Assembly, stressed that the economy would be its priority and pledged to steal governing power to restore the economy. Kim Chong-in, the interim head of the Minjoo Party, advised the administration under President Park Geun-hye and ruling Saenuri Party to return to the most serious impending problem of tending to the economy.
“The government will come under judgment by the people through votes if it cannot satisfy their everyday problems,” Kim said. Many election pundits agree the Saenuri Party brought the landslide defeat upon itself because the government failed in achieving both equality and growth in the economy during the eight years of conservative rule.
The voter turnout of those in their 20s and 30s who live under all-time high unemployment rates rose by 10 percentage points compared with the last election four years ago. Resentment and rage towards the incumbent government produced an overwhelming victory for the opposition in constituencies in and around the capital.
The areas in southern Seoul — Gangnam, Songpa, Gangdong and Yangcheon districts, all home turf of the conservative Saenuri party — and Seongnam City in Gyeonggi Province south of Seoul, all saw opposition candidates win by a landslide, Those areas have seen long-term and monthly rents shoot up more than 70 percent over the last two years.
The government’s housing policy that revolved around easier debt without any effective solution to tackle the fundamental supply problem has made the typically conservative middle class turn to the liberal opposition. The government and ruling party must work harder to come up with measures to ease various inequalities.
The opposition should not misunderstand that the public voted for them because they approved of their economic agenda. In fact, what the people want is an economy that grows meaningfully and distributes better. Both the Minjoo Party and splinter People’s Party do not have a clear-cut growth agenda. They must present feasible and practical solutions to economic problems in order to appease public and corporate anxieties about a hung parliament.
At the same time, the opposition camp must drop unrealistic policies and suggest outlines for industrial and labor reforms if they really want to earn the respect as the majority-occupying legislative members.
The people remember what the parties promised on the campaign trail. And they will be watching and judging until the next election.
JoongAng Ilbo, Apr. 16, Page 26