Time for a visionOne month after he was elected presidential candidate of the People Power Party (PPP), Yoon Seok-youl has launched the election campaign committee for the opposition. A delay was caused by a headline-making tug of war over the composition of the committee. On the stage of the launch ceremony on Monday, Kim Chong-in, general chairman overseeing Yoon’s campaign committee, PPP Chairman Lee Jun-seok, and Kim Byong-joon, chairman of the campaign committee, stood side by side after putting their friction behind them. They vowed to win the presidential election on March 9 no matter what.
Despite the launch of the committee, it is hard to dismiss all the discord that accompanied its formation. In a speech, PPP Chairman Lee expressed hope that no one will step in to defame him anymore. His remarks were obviously aimed at Yoon’s close aides, who were allegedly trying to alienate him from Yoon. When asked about Kim Byong-joon’s economic views the day before the ceremony, Kim Chong-in criticized him for “behaving as if he were a libertarian though he lacked economic common sense,” suggesting a possible conflict over the leadership of the party.
After watching his approval ratings decline due to the internal battle for positions on the committee, Yoon has reason to worry. A number of old boys who served previous conservative governments are flocking to the PPP in search of attractive seats in the next administration in case Yoon wins. The party’s last-minute replacement of a medical doctor as co-chair of the committee is telling. The committee cancelled the nomination of Ham Ik-byeong, a dermatologist, as co-chair of the committee just seven hours after his recruitment.
Yoon has so far stopped short of presenting a vision for the country. Despite the public’s yearning for change, Yoon’s approval rating is lower than it should be. He should present plans to tackle the challenges facing the country. In Monday’s event, Yoon promised to build a “country with strong fundamentals.” He stressed the values of freedom and fairness. He said his administration will create an environment for fair competition, build an economy in which creativity and imagination flourish, and achieve economic growth and job creation. At the same time, Yoon pledged to improve safety nets for the underprivileged.
The question is how. Yoon must convince voters with detailed ways to allow people to engage in fair competition, have sufficient opportunities and tighten social safety nets. We hope Yoon competes with his rival over how to overcome the multi-faceted challenges we face through concrete policy proposals.