South Korean President Moon Jae-in said it was time the opposition party abandoned outdated political tactics in response to its accusation that the government has helped North Korea build nuclear plants. He also called for it to not breed conflict and regress – a reference to an accusation the conservative party made in the past that linked the liberal party with North Korea.
Four days after the remark, the ruling party cleared the way for the very first impeachment trial of a judge since the adoption of the constitution. It pushed ahead with the impeachment although the judge was acquitted in the first trial and the case is sure to be dismissed in the constitutional court as his resignation has been confirmed, showing its determination to not let him go easily. It was probably to tame the judiciary, but one cannot help but think it is cruel.
How is it different from outdated political tactics that relied on the number of parliamentary seats to remove the opposition party leader and rush through bills? Back then, no vote was held for an impeachment trial for a judge at least. It is ironic that the leader of the current administration mentions old political tactics.
The Moon administration has also taken the politics of revenge to the next level. His first act as president was to purge those who oppose him. Two former presidents are still behind bars. The government has also encouraged “partisan conflicts,” which are worse than regional conflicts, dividing the public and causing tensions among different income groups and generations and between management and labor.
North Korea may have been used in the past to put the liberal party at a disadvantage, but the Moon administration is not without a weapon. It has Japan. Just when you think it is done with accusing its opponents of being “pro-Japan” or “home-grown pro-Japan,” it brings up the opposition party’s election promise for the South Korea-Japan underwater tunnel again. Who is causing conflicts and turning back the clock? The Moon administration is not in the position to call for “progression.”
At least, the economy was in great shape in the past. The current administration, on the other hand, has failed numerous economic policies, wasting taxpayers’ money, as shown in the 25th housing measures it announced on the day it pushed through the impeachment trial. Hypocrisy, the double standard and unsympathetic speeches are a new “addition” that destroys common sense, the rule of law, values and language.
To make things worse, the opposition parties are also still relying on old political tactics, blinded by its own interests. I still do not understand why Ahn Cheol-soo of the People Party became a politician and why he withdrew and returned to politics. To be sure, he has come a long way as a politician, but that is probably more to do with him having got used to politics, which he initially got into because it seemed “fashionable.”
Ahn is currently leading the poll for Seoul mayor’s race among those from opposition parties, not because he is popular but because the People Power Party is not so popular. There are still many moderate voters who say they “just” don’t like the People Power Party. Hatred that has been developed for no reason can be very powerful. The main opposition party earned it because it has failed to overcome the image of the privileged although it lost the election.
This is why it is a welcome change that Kim Chong-in from the People Power Party is trying out new approaches. Kim said he would make an effort to garner more support from moderate voters to win the next election. He is also good at resolving complicated issues. His dismissal of other politicians as “novices,” however, can turn off voters. The fact that the party had no other choice but to have an 80-year-old man as a party leader is in itself proof that the opposition party is stuck.
This is why Kim should focus on nurturing young politicians. There is nothing more effective than introducing new faces to change people’s perception of the party. The People Power Party should be also open-minded in nominating a candidate for the presidential election and be willing to withdraw its candidacy for the mayor of Seoul if necessary.
The People Power Party will be able to change people’s perception of the party and win a national election after four losses only when it brings new blood into the party and makes sacrifices. Going right back to the old ways just because things have become better will take it back to where it was after it lost the 2020 general elections. That said, it will be mistaken if it thinks conservative voters will vote for the party no matter what. It should remember they might walk away, too.