It’s not your ‘victory’As he stepped down as the interim head of the opposition People Power Party (PPP), Kim Chong-in warned the PPP not to regard its victory in the mayoral by-elections in Seoul and Busan as its own doing. “You must do utmost to transform the PPP into a party trying to keep abreast of the changes of times to draw broader support from the people across the board instead of adhering to outdated ideology or relying on its base in certain regions.”
The PPP has won an election for the first time since 2016 after experiencing four crushing defeats in a row. This time, it won by a landslide as it did in the 2006 local elections and the 2007 presidential election. The opposition could be raising its hopes up for the upcoming presidential election in March next year.
But it must not be misled. Its triumph owed much to swing votes. Voters in their 20s and 30s who usually supported the liberal Democratic Party (DP) cast their ballots for PPP candidates in the mayoral posts for Seoul and Busan. According to exit polls by three TV stations, 72.5 percent and 63.8 percent of voters in their 20s and 30s, respectively, voted for the PPP’s Seoul mayoral candidate Oh Se-hoon, close to 71.9 percent of traditional conservative voters in their 60s or older. PPP candidates urged young people to judge the government, and they had answered. But the young voters are not the type who will continue their support for the conservative party.
The PPP must go the extra mile if it really wants to hear them say they voted for the opposition and not to oppose the Moon Jae-in administration. Big votes carry big responsibility. Instead of resting on their resistance to the liberal government, the PPP must build up its own strength. It must present a workable plan to ease the worsened inequalities from the pandemic, youth jobs and low birth rate. It needs serious self-reflection because outside politicians draw higher popularity than the party’s candidates for the next presidency. First-time lawmakers of the PPP vowed to pave the way for a new conservative party to address challenges facing the nation.
It won’t be easy to crack the hard shell. The controversy over Song Un-seok, chief secretary to the outgoing interim leader of the PPP, who assaulted an office worker for trivial things while watching the vote count clearly shows irregularities can surface from the party at any time. The PPP must remember that its victory owed much to voters’ disrespect for the ruling party.