Politics can use creativity, tooPresident Park Geun-hye’s approval rating dipped to a record low of 29 percent, down 10 percentage points from last week, according to a Gallup Korea poll. As much as 58 percent of respondents believed the president was performing poorly. An approval rating of below 30 percent usually goes to a president in the end-of-term lame-duck stage. Moreover, the rating was only 34 percent in her political stronghold of Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province and 35 percent among people in their 50s, who tend to be conservative, suggesting that the president was losing favor across the board.
The presidential office could have minimized the damage following a stunning election defeat that cost the ruling party its majority and ranking as No. 1 in the assembly. But it responded to the harsh public verdict with its usual insensitivity and nonchalance. During a secretariat meeting five days after the election, the president said she would humbly accept the public’s judgement and pledged to work closely with the incoming National Assembly. Yet her actions hardly followed through. The president failed to understand that voters were unhappy with her more than the ruling party. No one around her dared point this out to her.
The criticisms aimed at Won Yoo-chul, floor leader for the party and acting party head, from veteran conservative politicians were actually aimed at the president. Kim Soo-han, former Assembly speaker, and other veteran politicians demanded changes from all involved, including the president. They advised that Park disband the faction staunchly loyal to the president as factional infighting is ruining the party. They called upon the president to communicate more with all parties. She should pay heed to such words of wisdom from veteran politicians.
The president must be startled by her loss of a majority in the legislature. She and her aides should try to reinvent themselves by turning sincerely humble and opening their ears to diverse voices. The president should invite a standing advisory group comprised of former statesmen and long-term politicians to give advice.
She should also invite former prime ministers and experts in the economy, society, and religious groups and also the heads of opposition parties. She must become more open and wise after absorbing diverse opinions. Showing some humility could restore confidence as voters would feel that they have contributed to a change in state affairs through their votes. Politics demands creativity just as much as an economy does.
JoongAng Ilbo, Apr. 23, Page 26