The voters’ turn
The author is a columnist of the JoongAng Ilbo.
The media is speculating that the ruling Democratic Party (DP) will win over 150 seats in the 300-member National Assembly while the main opposition United Future Party (UFP) will win less than 130, including the proportional representative seats being contested by satellite parties. Rhyu Si-min, a liberal critic, predicts the DP and its allies, including the Justice Party, will win about 180 seats. That is wishful thinking. The ruling party is hopeful because of its high approval ratings in opinion polls, while the UFP is relying on the silent majority to vote for their candidates. We must take those into account when we see the projections.
To modify opinion polls’ biases, artificial intelligence analysis based on big data is being used for the first time in projections for the April 15 parliamentary elections. The analysis company Unknown Data looked into big data collected through Naver and Twitter and found that public sentiment in cyberspace is not necessarily favorable to the DP. In key races nationwide, trends can be measured and data sliced and diced. Only God knows the election outcome, but humans still try to predict the future, because they want to improve their current lives by finding out what they will face in the future.
What will happen if the DP enjoys an overwhelming victory as Rhyu predicts? It could be a perfect environment to create a parliamentary dictatorship. At the end of last year, the ruling party and its four allies railroaded three controversial bills through the assembly — an election law revision to introduce the current election system, a plan to create a new investigative agency for senior public servants, and the budget bill — despite strong criticisms that they were using dirty tricks and loopholes. The largest opposition party was treated as if it did not exist. This will be a par for the course in a parliamentary dictatorship.
If the DP wins an overwhelming victory, it will speed up its preparation for the next presidential election. Pro-Moon politicians seem to have concluded that Cho would be the best successor for Moon. The successor won’t be former Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon or Gyeonggi Gov. Lee Jae-myung. Politically, the legislative elections on Wednesday is a prelude to making Cho the next president. The show will end with the presidential election in 2022.
If they win 180 seats or more, the DP and its allies will cooperate to share their interests and eventually work to amend the Constitution. Their plans will include their ambitions to redefine South Korea’s identity, including restrictions on private property and a coalition of the two Koreas. For the past three years, the Moon administration has pushed policies that fueled national division and weakened the country’s capabilities. Its general election victory will strengthen such policies.
Let’s take a look at the nuclear phase-out policy. The government seriously undermined the chances for survival of the nuclear reactor industry. Energy sovereignty has disappeared as if it was a dream. Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction — which has top-caliber nuclear energy technology — is about to go bankrupt due to debts accumulated over the past years. In Moon’s first year, the government stopped six nuclear plant construction projects that Doosan had invested in based on a continuation of national policy. The government’s move was a kind of state violence against private industry.
Ahead of the general elections, thousands of Doosan workers are about to lose jobs. The administration hurriedly offered a 1 trillion won ($821.3 million) bailout as it needs their votes. It made the company sick with its nuclear policy and then gave a pain killer. Such absurd policies will continue.
Without checks and balances, power turns into evil. Absolute power, as the saying goes, corrupts absolutely. If the DP wins this week’s parliamentary elections, it will become the first party that has won four elections in a row since its victory in the 2016 parliamentary elections, the 2017 presidential by-election, and the 2018 local elections. Do we want to strengthen the ruling party further or do we want to teach it a lesson? It is the voters’ turn to make their decision — and teach the powers that be something worth learning.
JoongAng Ilbo, April 13, Page 30