Time for self-reflectionThe ruling Democratic Party (DP) has shifted to interim leadership mode upon losing the March 9 presidential election. Park Ji-hyun, a 26-year-old activist who chased the digital sex crime group dubbed “Nth room” and vice-chairs the party’s women’s affairs committee, was appointed to co-head the emergency steering committee with DP floor leader Yun Ho-jung. She has the support from the DP as a young voice who can contribute to structural reform of the party as well as addressing issues related to gender conflict and the socially weak.
Half of the emergency committee has been filled with members in their 20s and 30s. Although younger, the ideological bias remains. Rep. Cho Eung-cheon could be helpful as he had been calling for change in the DP, but he is deemed a loyalist to Lee Jae-myung, the defeated presidential candidate, along with Rep. Lee So-young. Former Rep. Bae Jae-jung is close to Lee Nak-yon.
After a series of election defeats, the opposition People Power Party (PPP) recruited Yoon Suk-yeol — the prosecutor who had sent the conservative party’s two former presidents Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye to prison — and chose him as its presidential candidate. The PPP also elected 30-something Lee Jun-seok with no floor experience as the party chief. Compared with the PPP’s radical transformations, the DP appears less desperate.
The house of the DP remains in disarray despite a shift to emergency mode. The party is disputing whether to seat Lee, the defeated presidential candidate, among the co-leaders. Members are also split about holding Lee Nak-yon who headed the DP’s presidential campaign, accountable for its election defeat. If Lee Jae-myung is elected as a co-head, it could be seen as an attempt to protect him from the investigation on the Daejang-dong development scandal. But the DP must not forget it promised to appoint an independent counsel to get to the bottom of the case.
The DP must not take comfort from the loss of the presidential election by a narrow margin. The opinions disfavoring the government hovered around 50 percent throughout the presidential race, which underscores public disgruntlement with the Moon Jae-in government’s policies. The Moon administration and DP must repent for their failures in policies and appointments and fix their shortcomings.
The DP will soon become a supermajority opposition. It must keep the sitting power in check, but also must cooperate in undoing the wrong, including its repeated fiascos with real estate. The DP must do away with ideological conviction to regain public confidence. Even after losing its ruling power, the party is threatening to make things difficult for president-elect Yoon. The next major vote — the June 1 local elections — are just around the corner. Voters will be watching both the DP and PPP before they make their choice.