PPP tears itself apartIt is shameful that the People Power Party (PPP) is still embroiled in an internal battle over the formation of its election campaign committee 10 days after former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl was nominated as the party’s presidential candidate. On Monday, Yoon did not attend a Supreme Committee meeting for personal reasons and the PPP Chairman Lee Jun-seok finished the high-level meeting without making any official statement. Both Yoon and Lee are reportedly engaged in a tug of war over who should fill the vacant seat of the secretary general of the conservative party, a key post in managing presidential campaigns.
Conflict also arose over whether to invite Kim Chong-in, an octogenarian who once led the PPP emergency committee, onto Yoon’s campaign committee. After Kim wanted to eliminate some party officials from the campaign committee — and after Chairman Lee joined hands with him — Yoon’s aides attacked Lee for trying to take the upper hand in the composition of the committee. The brawl got worse after the suspicion arose that the Yoon camp was trying to recruit Kim Byong-joon, an honorary professor at Kookmin University, to counter the invitation of Kim as chairman of the campaign committee.
In a book launch party Monday, Kim, the former emergency committee chair, said he could help Yoon if necessary. But he added he will make a decision “if the composition of the committee starts to shape up,” leaving room for his participation in the campaign committee. Kim seems to relish his image as an “election veteran” who can accept or deny a request to lead a political party in crisis whether it be liberal or conservative.
Such a ruckus over the establishment of the election campaign committee demonstrates Yoon’s weak leadership and his lack of depth in politics. And yet, the PPP still cannot form a campaign committee for Yoon, the frontrunner in polls. Political pundits sarcastically ask, “Is Yoon really a puppet?” The PPP has many seasoned politicians who enjoyed their vested interests through countless mud fights for a long time. If Yoon is swayed by them, all the follies of the conservative party will certainly be repeated.
The PPP must not mistake its relatively high public support for eternal strength. The party owes much of its popularity to the Moon Jae-in administration’s incompetence — and arrogance — as shown in a critical shortage of diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) for vehicles and soaring real estate prices despite 26 rounds of measures to control them. PPP Chairman Lee is also criticized for trying to promote his reputation instead of playing his role as party head to hold the ruling party and government in check. Election sentiment is like the flow of water. If the PPP repeats its in-fighting without presenting new visions for the country’s future, it will be engulfed by anti-PPP sentiment.