Back to basics

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Back to basics

In Thursday’s speech after his victory in Wednesday’s election, President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol vowed to “respect the people” while governing the country for the next five years. His election as president testifies to public aspirations for the restoration of fairness and common sense in governance. The voters’ choice of the former prosecutor general — a political notice who entered politics just eight months ago — as head of state reflects the people’s desire for a colossal revamp of our politics.

President Moon Jae-in delivered the same message as Yoon’s after his snap election triumph in 2017 after the ouster of conservative president Park Geun-hye. At that time, Moon promised to uphold fairness and integration in order to respect what the people wanted. After entering the Blue House, however, Moon broke that promise. Instead, he has been bent on dividing the people into friends and foes to help unite his supporters over the past five years. As a result of such pitifully lopsided politics, he must surrender his seat to Yoon, whom he appointed as top prosecutor two years ago. That’s a cruel irony for Moon, as he was punished by voters for his domineering governing style even if he was elected president thanks to overwhelming support from a majority.

President-elect Yoon must keep to the promise he made Thursday. He was elected by the narrowest-ever margin of 0.73 percent. In other words, he has victory thanks to his predecessors’ errors rather than his own strengths. A significant gap between the votes Yoon received — 48.56 percent — and the ratio of voters who wanted a change in the ruling power — the mid-50 percent range — shows diehard public concerns about the administration he will form.

Yoon fervently asked the voters to replace the current administration with a new one. But the details of the government he wants to create were very ambiguous. Some of his campaign pledges fueled conflicts over ideology, region, gender, generation and social stratum. Yoon must not forget that nearly half of the voters did not support him.

Yoon must extend a hand to the Democratic Party, which holds nearly two thirds of the 300 seats in the legislature. The next parliamentary elections are still two years away. Without cooperation from the majority party, Yoon cannot do anything. Instead of blindly pushing the implementation of his campaign promises, he must talk with the DP.

Given his critical lack of expertise in running the government, Yoon must set up a united and bipartisan government rather than depending on conservative figures alone. Yoon must keep in mind that he was elected leader of a nation, not the head of a faction.
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