Finding a common frontThe People’s Party and the Bareun Party have gained traction for a merger. An intra-party poll showed that 74.6 percent of People’s Party members backed their leader Ahn Cheol-soo’s idea of integrating with the conservative splinter party. A separate public poll showed a spike in approval for a merged entity. The poll, which served as a kind of confidence vote on Ahn, would give him impetus to finalize a merger over the next two months and strengthen the party’s position ahead of the local elections in June.
But Ahn nevertheless faces strong opposition from opponents who try to find fault with the amazingly low voter turnout of 23 percent. They even vow to boycott the convention of the People’s Party that will approve the merger. Ahn and his supporters must instead plead for support from the public. There were many who had cast their ballots for the presidential candidates — Ahn Cheol-soo and Yoo Seong-min — from the two parties that divorced from the liberal Democratic Party and conservative Liberal Korea Party because they were sick and tired of the ever-bickering entities. The two major parties continue with their bigotry and outdated ways. There are many voters who wish to see more diverse and centrist politics. This is why a non-existent merged party has outpaced the Liberal Korea Party to rank No. 2 after the ruling party in approval rating.
But voters can easily turn away if the third party also disappoints them by repeating the old ways. It must differentiate itself with a clear direction and policy platform. Members of the two parties come from opposing roots. They must find a common front and values in order to win voters’ hearts.
They must offer a third way and separate themselves from the contentious politicking of the ruling and main opposition parties. Voters will be closely watching whether Ahn and his Bareun Party counterpart Yoo can breath fresh air into Korean politics.
JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 2, Page 30
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