We call it sophistry

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We call it sophistry

The ruling Democratic Party (DP) will begin a vote today on whether to join in a coalition of political parties to secure more seats in the 300-seat National Assembly under a new proportional representation system. As the vote continues until Friday morning, we cannot predict its results. But the DP is expected to approve a proposal to set up a de facto satellite of the party to help win a majority in the legislature. On Wednesday, DP Chairman Lee Hae-chan made it official. “We will do our best to allocate as many proportional seats as possible to minor parties,” he said. Under the electoral revision, political parties vie for 47 seats for proportional representation.

The reason why the DP leadership desires to establish a coalition in the face of strong opposition from inside and outside can be explained by research by the Institute for Democracy, a DP think tank. The study based its logic on the need to prevent the main opposition United Future Party (UFP) from becoming a majority in the April 15 parliamentary elections. The institute stressed the significance of using any possible means to prevent that. Lee Nak-yon, co-chair of the DP’s general election campaign, said, “Criticisms last for a while, but responsibility lasts for four years.”

More embarrassing than the DP’s pitiful excuses is the leadership putting the blame on opposition parties, including the splinter opposition Justice Party (JP) which collaborated with the DP to pass the electoral reforms to gain more seats. Chairman Lee said, “Our goal is to punish the UFP for a series of manipulations and violations of the new election law.

Lee spearheaded the DP’s crusade for electoral reforms last year. The UFP repeatedly announced a plan to establish a satellite party of its own from the start.

And yet, the ruling party pressed ahead with the revisions together with minor oppositions after excluding the UFP. But after the UFP’s idea of establishing its satellite Future Korea Party looked like it has been successful, he lambasted it for being a “trash party” and “shaking the very foundations of party politics in Korea.”

The JP declared that it would not join in a coalition led by the DP citing the “danger it poses to the progressive camp.” Politics must respect cause, not sly tactics. Despite the urgency to not hand over its majority status to the UFP, the ruling party must not go this way. Former President Roh Moo-hyun stuck to an uphill battle over a constituency even while he was aware of a defeat. Such a daunting spirit of challenge is the virtue that should be respected by his followers in the DP.
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