Colossal revamp requiredRepresentatives Han Sun-kyo and Yeo Sang-kyu, senior lawmakers from the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP), declared they would not run in the upcoming general election on April 15. They made the decision two days after Rep. Kim Do-eup, a former prosecutor, declared he would not run. With their announcements, seven lawmakers from the embattled opposition have chosen not to run. All of their reasons are different. But most of the lawmakers pointed to the limits of an adrift opposition and called for innovation and integration of the divided party after giving up their vested rights.
Rep. Yeo, chairman of the Legislation and Judiciary Committee in the National Assembly, also mentioned the need for party leaders to step down to take responsibility for their failure to block the passage of a controversial electoral reform bill and another bill aimed at establishing an extra law enforcement body focusing on investigating corruption among high-level government officials, including judges and prosecutors.
The outgoing lawmaker cited the need to revamp the LKP to merge with other opposition parties. If an opposition exists as a strong alternative to the ruling party, the government in power can’t do anything it wants. The current leadership of the LKP knows that very well.
The public is having sleepless nights due to the grave situation facing the nation. There are no signs of improvements on the economic and security fronts. To solve these problems, President Moon Jae-in must first change his perception. But opposition parties also must be held accountable as they failed to put the brakes on the government’s relentless pushing of liberal policies.
The opposition camp must escape its lethargy. Actually, a ruling party’s domination is nothing new. But the current opposition is sharply split over ideology even when the ruling Democratic Party (DP) is engrossed in drafting and passing a number of populist bills — including hefty pork-barrel projects — to get more votes in the upcoming general election. Despite the ruling party’s swift move to pass such bills, the opposition has been simply standing by.
To stand on its own feet, the LKP must generate some new energy. As it yielded power to the DP after President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment and removal, the LKP must recover support from the public by changing its behavior. Rep. Yeo underscored the need to unify the conservative camp. The LKP must listen to his candid criticism.
Approval ratings for the LKP are even lower than the disapproval rating for President Moon. That means the people can hardly vote for the LKP despite their desire to punish the government. Changing the faces of the old guard alone cannot revive the party. A colossal revamp is needed. The LKP has been defeated by the DP in three nationwide elections since the launch of the Moon administration. Unless the party changes, it will suffer defeat again.
JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 3, Page 30
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