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Political Parties Set to Capitalize on World Cup Fever

Posted June. 07, 2002 19:16,   


As the nation savors its first World Cup victory in a festive mood, the World Cup fever is also changing the political landscape where smear campaigns and ill-intent allegations have been rampant prior to the June 13 local election. Political parties on June 4 said that they will not resort to negative campaigns, such as exchanging vicious words and making allegations, so that the historic victory continues to unite the people. Instead, they are devising new strategies that can appeal to the renewed public sentiment.

* World Cup Celebration, Strategic Maneuvering

Both the Grand National Party (GNP) and the Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) expect the huge victory against Polish team to work in favor of their parties.

The opposition GNP is set to mobilize all of its organizations to drum up support from voters of their 40`s, who have traditionally been its support base, as the World Cup fever will likely keep young voters away from polling booths. Lee Myung-bak, GNP candidate to Seoul mayor race, has made a new campaign pledge to rename Ganbyeonbuk-ro as `World Cup Highway,` a move aimed at World Cup jubilation.

MDP, seeing the public grow more optimistic and future-oriented in line with the rising chances of the national team`s advance into the semi-quarterfinals, is pinning hopes on that their young candidates will be able to increase their appeals. "The people are now more optimistic and more confident after the first victory that raised chances of advancing into the next round. As they will see more in the future than the past and in the candidate himself than the party as a whole, we are exerting our best effort to increase voter turnout," said Kim Sung-ho, spokesman for Kim`s camp. Kim also made a new pledge aimed at World Cup sentiment that he will introduce a professional soccer team based in Seoul.

* Restrained from Making Allegations

"This is the day of no political bickering," said MDP spokesman Jung Beom-goo on June 5. "We will neither make disrespectful remarks nor issue statements including sensitive content to join the national rally that wishes our team the best through the semi-quarterfinals and the quarterfinals."

GNP also said that it will remain restrained from employing negative tactics during the rest of the campaign period. The party concluded through discussions that it is no use of reacting to MDP`s negative campaigns as they hardly affect the public absorbed in World Cup games. "A majority think that sticking to the negative strategy in this upbeat mood could only backfire," said a source from the party.

* No Major Election Fallouts

If the national team advances into the next round, the World Cup fever is bound to continue for some time after the June 13 election, cushioning any major shock from election results. In particular, the match with Portugal is set for June 14, and it is not a conjecture any more that Korea`s World Cup tournament could continue through the semifinals. Then, election fallouts such as reshuffling are likely to be limited and short-lived affected by World Cup excitement.

Young-Chan Yoon Yeon-Wook Jung yyc11@donga.com jyw11@donga.com