Time to get realThe ruling Democratic Party (DP)’s crushing defeat in the April 7 mayoral by-elections in Seoul and Busan can be attributed to the DP’s endless fumbles in real estate policy and its unrivaled double standards. The main opposition People Power Party (PPP) did not grab an election victory on its own. Even so, the PPP seems to be oblivious to the real reason for its landslide victory. Voters simply gave the party a chance to put the brakes on the DP’s overbearing governance. And yet, members of the PPP are engrossed with an internal battle to take the helm of the embattled party only three weeks after the victory in the two largest cities in Korea after suffering sweeping losses in nationwide elections for years.
Former and current members of the PPP have not missed a single chance to exchange attacks on one another. Its former interim leader Kim Chong-in hurls insults at both the PPP and Ahn Cheol-soo, head of the People’s Party, an ally of the PPP, on a daily basis. After Ahn described the PPP’s victory in the Seoul mayoral by-election as a “triumph for the opposition camp,” Kim denounced Ahn for being “arrogant.” Kim went on to criticize the PPP for being in a “hellish state.” He even lambasted floor leader Joo Ho-young, who also serves as ad hoc leader of the PPP, for “having attempted to nominate Ahn as Seoul mayoral candidate behind the scenes.”
Despite rebuttals and expression of disgruntlement at Kim by few members, the PPP fell short of reacting to Kim’s fiery words due to a pitiful leadership vacuum ahead of an upcoming national convention on April 30. About 15 members of the PPP have rolled up their sleeves to run for the chairmanship of the party.
In the meantime, most PPP lawmakers based in North and South Gyeongsang provinces are only concerned with who will help them get a nomination for their legislative seats in the next parliamentary election. As a result, the party did not show any reaction to Kim’s strong opposition to bringing in former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl, a frontrunner in polls, to brace for the presidential election next March.
Some PPP members offered to recruit Yoon based on their personal connections, but the party does not know what to do to reel him in. Even before the elections, the PPP promised to merge with Ahn’s party, but no progress has been made. After Rep. Suh Byung-soo, a core member of the pro-Park Geun-hye faction, made remarks suggestive of his denial of the presidential impeachment, that provoked strong opposition from inside and outside the party.
Many voters are turning their backs against the PPP. Voters cast ballots for the PPP because of their animosity for President Moon Jae-in and the DP. The PPP should reinvent itself — fast!