Hard-liners’ counterattackOn Friday, two days after the ruling Democratic Party (DP)’s crushing defeat in the April 7 mayoral by-elections in Seoul and Busan, a group of its first-term lawmakers issued a statement repenting the way they have acted since their election last year. Five of them separately held a press conference and apologized for the “DP’s miscalculation and misjudgment.” Then, over the weekend, hard-liners of the DP led by lawmakers loyal to President Moon Jae-in heavily criticized the political rookies on social media for “turning into traitors.”
Their attacks effectively effaced the remarks their boss made earlier. On Thursday, President Moon said, “I accept the people’s censure with heavy heart.” The hard-liners’ assault on the rookies will only fuel the public’s distrust with the ruling party whose hawkish members tried to gag their younger colleagues.
More than 50 first-term lawmakers of the DP on Friday held a closed-door meeting to discuss reasons for the defeat and said the DP should not have nominated candidates for the two mayoral posts citing the party’s constitution which bans it from fielding candidates when its members made grave mistakes, including sexual assault. The rookies also condemned the party’s relentless drive for prosecution reforms as it lost justifications after a fierce battle between the justice minister and the prosecutor general. In a separate press conference held by five of the rookies, they expressed regret about their blind faith in prosecutorial reform.
On Friday, President Moon said he would humbly respect the voters’ decision. That means he will change course, including on his regulation-based real estate policy. On the same day, however, Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Hong Nam-ki appeared on television and stressed that there will be no change in the government’s real estate policy. We are dumbfounded at the obstinacy of the liberal administration methodically demonstrated by senior officials in the government, DP and the Blue House.
A considerable number of people voted for the PPP not because they liked the conservative party but because the government and DP repeatedly made policy mistakes and blamed the opposition without looking back on its own misdeeds. If the DP and government are really sincere, they must pay heed to what their rookies said and change their policy direction drastically.
Otherwise, we cannot hope for any policy change until Moon steps down in May next year. If the DP still sticks with its self-righteousness, its fate will be determined in next year’s presidential election on March 9.