A president who keeps promises

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A president who keeps promises

The author is a life and economy news team reporter of the JoongAng Ilbo.

Election campaign pledges are official promises that candidates make to the voters about what they would do if elected when they run for president, representative or mayor. In Korea, the official pledges have long been empty promises.

The campaign promises of the president, who is the head of state, also are often not implemented. The average rate of implemented campaign promises of presidents is about 30 percent. It means that two out of three promises made as a candidate were broken. According to the Citizens’ Coalition for Economic Justice, impeached former president Park Geun-hye’s promise fulfillment rate was 41 percent while her predecessor Lee Myung-bak’s was 39 percent. Former President Roh Moo-hyun’s rate was 43 percent and former President Kim Dae-jung was merely 18 percent.

While President Moon Jae-in is still in office and the rate of fulfillment is yet to be revealed, the Moon Jae-in Meter — the site that checks the current administration’s campaign promises — estimates the figure to be 17 percent. Notable promises that were not kept include the relocation of the presidential office to the Gwanghwamun government complex and the reinforcement of appointment criteria for high-level official positions. The presidential office is still in the Blue House, and the controversy over Moon’s appointment of Cho Kuk, a law professor-turned-secretary of civil affairs, as justice minister led to a ferocious candlelight rally.

In the neck-and-neck 20th presidential election on March 9, the winner was determined by a mere 0.73 percent margin. As it was such a heated race, the winner must have made many vain promises to get votes. Major promises by President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol were to relocate the Blue House to the government complex in Gwanghwamun Square. (This promise will likely be kept as he announced Sunday he would move into the Ministry of National Defense building.) To attract votes from 3.3 million small business owners, Yoon also offered to provide up to 10 million won ($8,227) to them. He pledged to abolish the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family and supply 2.5 million apartments, including 1.5 million units in the capital region alone. None of these promises are easy to keep.

While individual citizens will feel differently about the fulfillment of each promise, Yoon’s campaign promises can get the support of the people if he does not deviate from the frame of his campaign pledge title, “New Republic of Korea Created with Fairness and Common Sense.” I look forward to seeing a “president who keeps promises.” 

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