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[Editorial] Choi`s Tough Road Ahead As Leader of GNP

Posted June. 26, 2003 21:34,   


Grand National Party members recently voted in Choi Byung-ryul as their new leader. Choi`s selection represents a strong desire to check the Roh administration, which has caused anxiety in many South Koreans due to its fragmented leadership and lack of experience. The new Choi leadership also seems to be propelled by people`s hope for a powerful opposition that can go head-to-head and check the unstable administration.

The first task Choi should accomplish is to win the general election next year, and pave the way to perhaps win the next presidential election. Achievement of these goals, however, presupposes reformation of the Grand National Party itself as a party which can be trusted by the people and also as the only alternative to the dithering Roh Moo-hyun administration. Once South Koreans gain confidence in the party, the Korean people will pay back the party with election wins.

Chairman Choi should steer the Grand National Party on all the tough roads that lie ahead. The party has not lived up to its potential as the majority party and should revamp its image and materialize its potential, which in turn presupposes establishment of its identity. It is understandable for the party to pursue diversity in ideology and goals. The party should not lose its identity in the process however, as advocated by Choi; it should transform itself into a reform-oriented conservative one. In other words, it should change its image from that of extreme right-wing conservatism to a more palatable offering. In addition, to meet the demands of the age, the party leadership should carry out reform and enhance harmony among party members. Only then can we accept the Grand National Party as an alternative.

All the circumstances surrounding the party show that the road to the "ultimate alternative" will not be that smooth. Some party members are showing signs of defection and the numerous factions within the party may pose a threat to the new reform drive. In addition, the party may not be able to expect any cooperation from the Millennium Democratic Party. They are still at odds over the dismissal of the Independent Counsel.

Chairman Choi should first build trust among the South Korean people, and prove to them that he is a man of principle. People will then begin to envision a more positive future for his party.