A promise must be kept

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A promise must be kept

 The ruling Democratic Party (DP) finished its vote Sunday on whether to field candidates for Seoul and Busan mayors in next April’s by-elections. The DP announces the results of the vote today. The party will most likely reach the conclusion that it must amend its party constitution to field two candidates. We wonder how it can take responsibility for reversing a decision it made five years ago.

The constitution stipulates that the party must not field its candidates in any by-elections if its members lost their position as head of elected posts after committing grave wrongdoings involving corruption. Therefore, if the party really respects its own constitution, it must not field candidates for the two posts because they have been vacant since former Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon committed suicide over alleged sexual misconduct and former Busan mayor Oh Keo-don resigned over a similar scandal.

President Moon Jae-in and other DP politicians already made their moral position clear. As head of the DP in 2015, Moon attacked the ruling Saenuri Party for fielding a candidate for head of Goseong County, citing it was a by-election held after the former head of the county, a Saenuri Party member, lost his job due to election fraud. As head of the DP in 2017, current Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae also lambasted the ruling party for fielding a candidate for a legislative seat representing Sangju city, North Gyeongsang, in a by-election held as a result of election fraud.

When asked by an opposition lawmaker if politicians’ sexual assults can be a reason for a political party not to field a candidate in by-elections, Kim Young-choon, a former DP lawmaker and current secretary general of the National Assembly, agreed. A lawmaker from the splinter opposition Justice Party joined the chorus by criticizing the DP for handing the decision over to its members.

Breaking a promise is nothing new to the DP. Last year, when its push for a novel proportional representation system boded ill for the future of the party, it ate its words and set up a satellite party to help win the April 15 parliamentary elections. After facing strong resistance to a controversial bill to establish the Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Officials, the DP gave veto power to the opposition, but then changed its position.

The article in the DP’s constitution was inserted by Moon himself. What reaction would he show if the opposition was similarly hypocritical? The DP must do the right thing.

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