Reinventing conservative parties

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Reinventing conservative parties

Upon losing the presidential race to his conservative rival Park Geun-hye in 2012, Moon wrote a book titled “Dec. 19 is Not the End, but a New Beginning” which reflected on the reasons for his defeat. “The Plan for Liberal Rule” written by liberal law scholar Cho Kuk became an election guide book for the Democratic Party. Policy group Shimcheonhoe, which acts as the architect for Moon’s agenda, was formed in 2013 soon after the Park Geun-hye administration was inaugurated. Long preparation and refining of policies has brought back ruling power to the liberal camp after nearly a decade.

The centrist and conservative front remains in disarray after their defeat in the May 9 election. This week, the Liberty Korea Party, the People’s Party and the Bareun Party are holding assemblies and conferences to discuss their future. The conservative front was wrecked and failed to recover because it did not clearly divorce itself from the fallen scandalous president Park Geun-hye. The fall of the conservative front stems from the outdated, authoritarian, and exclusive governing ways, and not from an ideological defeat.

The Liberty Korea Party cannot fully recover and regain public confidence unless it cuts ties with the Park loyalist faction. The party is ridiculed as a party for the old as it lost in 14 out of 17 provinces and cities and in all age groups except for the senior population aged 60 or older. The party must make itself completely free of Park and start anew on entirely new design and direction.

Yoo Seong-min of the Bareun Party secured a mere 6.8 percent vote from the latest presidential election. But his catchphrase of “conservative security and reform-minded economy” appealed to young voters. If the party polishes its values and vision to make policy ideas more practical, it could pose as a formidable representative for the conservative population.

People’s Party candidate Ahn Cheol-soo’s 21.4 percent of votes also must not be underestimated. He and his party have presented a third way in the traditionally rigid bipolar legislature. Centrist and conservative parties must not fall into the temptation to regroup for self-serving interests and instead play their representative role with sincerity to sustain and renew their voters’ confidence.

JoongAng Ilbo, May 16, Page 34
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