20th Assembly will be left-of-center, study says

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20th Assembly will be left-of-center, study says

The 20th National Assembly is likely to be economically left-of-center, according to an analysis of pledges presented by major political parties in last week’s general election.

In a seminar hosted by the Korean Institute of Liberal Democracy and the Committee for Restoration of National Normalcy, Oh Jung-geun, professor of finance, information and technology at Konkuk University, presented his analysis on Wednesday into the economic campaign pledges made by the lawmakers-elect.

“Based on the major economic pledges presented by each political party, the Saenuri Party demonstrated centrist policies, while the Minjoo Party and the People’s Party showed center-left policies,” Oh said. “The Justice Party [also] presented leftist policies.”

Oh said he converted the economic pledges of each political party into the market economy index, ranging from 1 to 5. According to the index, a score closer to 1 is correlated with left-wing economic policies while a score closer to 5 is correlated with right-wing economic policies.

In the analysis, the Saenuri Party scored 2.9, while the Minjoo Party scored 1.9. The People’s Party scored 2.0 and the Justice Party scored 1.5.

“Factoring in the numbers of winners for the four political parties, the market economy index of the 20th National Assembly was 2.3,” Oh said. “The next legislature can be called a moderate-left National Assembly.”

“It was surprising that the Saenuri Party’s economic stance was not right-of-center, as we generally tend to think it is,” Oh said. “But given that the party has stressed “economic democracy” ever since the 2012 presidential election, its policies appeared to lean to the left.”

Although the Saenuri Party did not use the term “economic democracy” in the general election, it has presented some left-wing policies in order to appeal to the voters. For instance, the party promised to encourage social enterprises, increase the minimum wage and offer assistance to farmers suffering from loss due to Korea’s free trade agreements. It also promised free tuition for public high school students.

The party also presented some right-wing policies that focused on economic growth, labor market reform, the establishment of regulation-free zones and the development of key industries that are intended to function as the nation’s upcoming economic engine.

The Minjoo Party presented mostly centrist and leftist promises, Oh said, while the People’s Party offered promises similar to that of the Minjoo. Its pledges regarding future economic growth, which focused on the introduction of an organization to mediate between districts during mergers and acquisitions, were considered right-wing.

“The left-leaning policies, such as the increase of the minimum wage and the share program of conglomerates’ profits, are likely to discourage investments,” Oh said. “But the three parties also shared the same ideas on developing new sources of growth for our economy and encouraging technology start-ups, and they can first work together based on this common ground to push forward centrist programs first,” he added.

BY PARK YU-MI [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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