Saenuri needs a revolutionTwo weeks have passed since the crushing defeat of the ruling Saenuri Party in the April 13 general election. If the ruling party fails to address tough challenges ahead, it could be doomed in the 20th National Assembly. The question is whether the party will recognize the sense of crisis and prepare for a total rebirth. The Saenuri Party hosts two major events today: a celebration for 122 lawmakers-elect and President Park Geun-hye’s meeting with editor in chiefs of newspapers and chief directors of broadcast media. Everyone will be watching closely to see what kind of message the president will deliver to the nation.
The ruling party and the president must put an end to their top-down relationship. That began with the president’s treatment of the ruling party members as her subordinates. Her decision to deny former floor leader Yoo Seong-min a party nomination for the election after singling out him as a symbol of political betrayal made many voters wonder if the principle of democracy really works in the ruling party. Recurrent scenes in which anyone in disagreement with the president are ostracized and pushed to the sidelines were a turn-off to the public, along with the arrogant behavior of the pro-Park faction.
The new legislature demands the ruling party compromise with the liberal majority if the minority Saenuri wants to press ahead with the president’s national agenda. With such strict relations between the Blue House and the legislature, however, such discretionary power on the part of the ruling party cannot be expected. The celebration for lawmakers-elect must serve as an event to declare political autonomy from the president.
The way the ruling party has reacted to its overwhelming loss in the election disappoints us. The party must not try to blindly hold everyone accountable for the defeat. Instead, it must declared an end to the pro-Park group’s dominance and call for a revamp of the government and the Blue House. Without such a revolutionary approach, the ruling party cannot handle a new legislature with the liberals in a majority.
The public does not care who is picked as a new floor leader or whether he or she serves as chairman of the emergency committee. Each legislator should demonstrate a spirit of independence. The president must accept the altered political terrain, respect the ruling party and pronounce a new era of co-governance with the lliberals. Without that, it’s only a matter of time before the ruling party vanishes into the dustbin of history.
JoongAng Ilbo, Apr. 26, Page 30