The opposition’s optionA roar of public outrage demands President Park Geun-hye step down immediately. It is not the people’s role to take into account the realistic implications of an abrupt resignation or take responsibility for any chaotic ramifications thereafter. Responsibility for hammering out rational solutions by fully reflecting public opinion should be borne by political circles.
Considering the public’s vehement call for a retreat of President Park from government, it could be right to push forward her impeachment.
Yet, politics is not about putting public calls into action by the book.
The Park administration has outlived its usefulness. Whether Park leaves in January or April, her departure is unavoidable. The most important thing now is to elect the next president. The process should be cleared of any potential flaws, not to mention securing the time needed to scrutinize the qualifications of a new president.
Nevertheless, the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea is bent on Park’s impeachment this Friday. It plans to put an impeachment motion to a vote even if ruling Saenuri Party lawmakers not loyal to the president do not join its crusade against her.
The main opposition even ignored growing concerns that if the motion is voted down in the National Assembly, it could give immunity to the president. The party could have calculated that a rejection of the motion would further fuel the candlelight vigils and blame it on ruling party legislators with no affiliations to Park. If the presidential election is to be held within 60 days after she steps down, it could help the opposition snatch an easy victory in the election, the party thinks.
But that’s a serious miscalculation. Candle-lit vigils are not a trophy of a certain political group, but a grim judgement on the arrogance and mistakes of Park. Many citizens harbor strong resentment over such political moves even if they want Park’s immediate retreat.
The opposition must do its best to ensure a successful presidential election instead of only caring about election victory. As Park pledged to step down following a schedule agreed to by the ruling and opposition parties, the Minjoo must first reach a consensus with Saenuri on a road map for her retreat. If the president does not respond to a demand by lawmakers that she answer by 6 p.m. Wednesday, the opposition can put the motion to a vote immediately. If Minjoo helps with an “orderly retreat” of the president, that will also raise the likelihood of a successful impeachment.
JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 5, Page 30