The world is changingKoreans cast their ballots today to pick their representatives in the National Assembly. The campaign was largely overshadowed by the virus outbreak. A new era has been ushered in by the novel coronavirus. Individual lifestyles, patterns in consumption and manufacturing, economic, social, environmental and cultural dynamics as well as international order could all change in an instant. We are undergoing a turning point in human civilization.
Political leadership must realign to meet the changes across the world. Wednesday’s election is to select Korea’s players for the new field. For the government, the results should serve as an indicator of the policy direction of the past three years or veer towards an entirely new path. The vote can fix the wrongs of the past and revive the checks and balances necessary for the country’s future during a transitional period.
The election is a choice between expressing confidence in the government to combat the virus-triggered crisis and enforcing a balance in the unchecked power. The ruling Democratic Party (DP) is aiming for a majority of over 150 seats in of the 300-member legislature to pursue with its reform plans. It needs stable legislative backing to press ahead with its policy designed to increase income, phase out nuclear power and contain real estate speculation. Polls have shown a positive impact on the results of the election for the ruling party — largely thanks to the government’s success in the battle against the virus.
The main opposition United Future Party (UFP) argues there will be no brakes to rein in the governing power if it gets a majority in the legislature on top of its command over the administration and judiciary. If the liberal camp wins over 180 seats as assumed by Rhyu Si-min, head of the Roh Moo-hyun Foundation, the ruling party can wield immense power over lawmaking. Yoo Seong-min, a UFP lawmaker, is pleading for votes on the conservative front to help prevent a possible dictatorship under Moon if the DP wins a majority.
The new National Assembly should be able to restore the economy. Korean output, exports and domestic demand had all been troubled even before the Covid-19 assault. The economy lost steam under experiments of income-led growth policy and union-friendly measures as seen in countless data.
The election could be a tipping point in deciding whether Korea can regain competitiveness to fight in the global stage or crumble under multiple whammies. The decision hinges on wise judgment from voters.