Saenuri on the brinkThe Saenuri Party is drifting toward a cliff amid deepening divide among the crew and intensified fight over the helm. After sailing without leadership for a month since its overwhelming defeat in the April general election, the party finally launched an interim emergency committee and reform committee to restore order. But the mainstream faction self-dubbed to be loyal to President Park Geun-hye and faction labeled as nonconformists and reformists waged public showdown. Rep. Kim Yong-tae elected as the head of the new reform committee failed to get endorsement from the top executive council because members loyal to the president boycotted the meeting. Kim had previously warned of sweeping restructuring aimed to root out factional divide and top-down relationship with the presidential office.
Newly elected floor leader Chung Jin-suk, also categorized as nonconformist, in protest refused to take up party affairs. The state of a ruling party while the country faces a myriad of challenges is shamefully disgraceful.
The Saenuri Party in fact would be better off going separate ways. The ruling party wields neither a majority nor first rank position in the new legislative. It would not matter if it breaks up into two. But whether a party remains loyal to the president or not, it must not discredit the public voice calling for reform and reinvention from the ruling conservative party. The ruling party received harsh judgment from the voters from last election. For the first time in history, the ruling party is outnumbered by the main opposition in the legislative. The voters made it clear that the ruling party must reinvent itself. But the party continues to disappoint the people.
The latter two years of the presidential term would be challenging with the opposition dominating the legislative. If the president keeps up her one-sided ways, the stalemate in state affairs would worsen. Even when the Saenuri Party commanded the majority in the outgoing legislative, it acted merely as a puppet for the presidential office and could not get any bills passed in time. The ruling party must utterly recreate itself if it wants to restore its identity. It should replace the people responsible for undermining the party unity and start anew. The former faction loyal to President Roh Moo-hyun fell from grace and was forced to dissolve because the members failed to learn from the May 31 2005 gubernatorial election defeat. Politics of arrogance that pay little respect to public opinion can only bring about self-doom. If the party cannot stop fighting and set order on their own, the house owner must do the job for them. The president should personally dissolve the loyalist faction if she wants to save her party.
JoongAng Ilbo, May 19, Page 34