No revamp, no winThe conservative camp has come together to pose as a formidable threat — accounting for 113 in the 300-seat legislature — to the ruling Democratic Party in the April election. The new coalition dubbed the United Future Party brings the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) and two minor opposition parties under one roof. It is the first time the conservative front has joined forces after it scattered upon the ouster of impeached President Park Geun-hye in 2017. They were united in one goal of responding to “public voices to judge the Moon Jae-in administration and defend free democracy,” according to inauguration slogan.
The ever-wrangling conservative front stopped their fight amongst themselves with the common goal of punishing the Moon Jae-in administration. The ruling party has been bulldozing away with its ways as it had no powerful or willful opposition to restrain it. But the economies of scale will be of no use if it is a feigned union to win the election.
The integration process had been hardly noble. Despite the hype and rhetoric, there had not been any vision that could win the hearts of the public. The conservative front could not do anything during the scandal regarding former Justice Minister Cho Kuk, the government’s interference with prosecutorial investigations and questionable policies on North Korea, real estate and many other government follies. They were too preoccupied with defending their own vested powers and too often acted out of sync with public expectations.
The biggest responsibility falls on Hwang Kyo-ahn who would be heading the united party. Challenging the Moon Jae-in administration won’t be enough. He must erase all the past ways and carry out sweeping reforms to persuade even the centrists. Hwang promised to meet with Rep. Yoo Seong-min, head of a former conservative opposition, to discuss directions for reforms, but did not keep the promise. Yoo did not attend the inauguration ceremony. The LKP leadership vowed to resign in mass and disavow vested rights, but has not acted even after Yoo declared he won’t be running in the upcoming election.
The opposition camp may have been relieved by the latest polls suggesting increasing public disappointment with the government. But public sentiment can change anytime. It is underestimating the people if it thinks they would vote for the opposition just because they are not happy with the ruling power. It must become humble and set a vision for the future to convince the people that it will surely change. Otherwise, the merger will bear no fruit.
JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 18, Page 30