Backpedaling on a promiseThe ruling Democratic Party (DP) has reversed its earlier promise to stay away from next year’s mayoral by-elections for Seoul and Busan whose posts have become vacant due to sexual harassment claims against their heads. The DP announced it would field candidates in the two by-elections scheduled for April. The party is throwing away its own credibility by breaking its promise to the people in atonement for the disgrace and confusion its former mayors have caused. Its audacity is stupefying.
A party reform committee was established in 2015 by Moon Jae-in when he was head of the opposition party to spearhead political reform. As the opposition, the DP attacked the then-ruling conservative party for fielding a candidate for a county chief in Goseong, South Gyeongsang, after its candidate lost his post for election law violation.
This time, the by-elections for the country’s two biggest metropolitans are being held because former Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon and former Busan Mayor Oh Keo-don, both DP members, were accused of sexually harassing female employees. Their alleged crimes are incomparable to election law violations due to the direct harm to the victims. Law enforcement authorities have been stalling the investigations for months, paining the victims who cannot carry on with normal lives. If it is a party of reason that prizes promises to the people, it should repeat an apology to the victims and people and show atonement by staying away from the election.
But DP head Lee Nak-yon and other party leaders reversed the decision by saying it is the result of a party convention vote. They are transferring the blame to party members to pursue their interest.
The DP said the decision was inevitable because 86.4 percent voted for a revision of its party constitution that banned the party from nominating candidates for by-elections in such cases. But when the vote result was questioned as the voter turnout rate stopped at 26.4 percent, which is less than a third of all party members, it claimed the vote was on “political opinion” and not subject to quorum criteria. We wonder if the DP is really fit to be a ruling party for its habitual lying, self-justifying excuses and pretentious ways.
Chairman Lee is an aspirant candidate for the next presidency. But as head of the party, he has been equally domineering and oblivious to outside criticisms. He promised to field two “ethical and able” candidates. But the party has already lost public trust.