Strange presidential reactionPresident Park Geun-hye’s comments on the humiliating defeat of the ruling party in last week’s election fell short of our expectations for seeing a humbling in her style of governance and promises for sweeping change.
She neither apologized nor provided a new vision during the first presidential secretariat meeting after the election.
“The election outcome made me reflect on the will of the people. I will humbly respect this, and do my best to develop the economy and complete my three-year economic reform plan by placing improvement in people’s livelihood as a top priority in state affairs,” she said in her opening remarks.
Park expressed hope that the new legislation will serve to help the economy and improve people’s lives, and pledged that the government will work closely with the legislature. She spoke for about six minutes, shorter than the usual 10. Her speech did not differ much from the nonchalant two-sentence statement she released through the presidential spokesman the day after the election.
Although she mentioned the will of the people, she did not clarify what she thought this meant. The leadership of the ruling party bowed to the people after the landslide defeat, but did not explain what it was apologizing for. Both the president and leaders of the ruling party failed to clarify their awareness and analysis of the cause of the election result, or how they plan to win back public confidence.
The president should realize the election had been a kind of referendum on her three years of governance. Voters clearly answered that they had not been pleased with her way of domineering her party and the legislature. The embarrassing fallout in the ruling party over candidate selection based on who was loyal to the president had taken the biggest toll on votes.
The president should have felt responsibility over the way her followers used their power to name candidates. Voters clearly disagreed with her view that it had been the opposition and legislature that ruined the economy by delaying passage of economy-related bills.
For the last three years, the president seated people close to her or from her hometown or university, and kept aloof from the ruling party and legislature. She must make those who have made the ruling party lose its majority pay for the disgraceful fall. The president must get closer to the people and legislature that represents them in order to achieve the national agenda of economic revival, structural change and security strengthening.
JoongAng Ilbo, April 19, Page 30