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[Editorial] GNP Can’t Exploit Uri Party Infighting

Posted November. 02, 2005 05:07,   


Grand National Party (GNP) floor leader Kang Jae-sup said yesterday that “when the opposition party criticizes the administration and the president, it does not become headline news, but when it is done by the party in power, it becomes the center of attention.” His remarks indicate that the pro-Roh and anti-Roh conflict going on within the ruling Uri Party since the October 26 re-elections may reverse the political situation back in favor of the government party.

Voices from the GNP are even criticizing their own party, saying, “Uri Party members have the power to attract the interest of the public, but we don’t.”

This self-deprecating assessment on the part of some GNP members is justified by the fact that despite winning landslide victories in both the June local elections and the August re-elections in 2002, it was still defeated in the presidential elections after being swept aside by the political momentum of Roh Moo-hyun and Chung Mong-joon’s decision to field a single candidate.

The opposition party is facing the same concerns now as it did in December 2000 when younger members of the New Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) demanded that loyalists of then-President Kim Dae-jung in the MDP step down. GNP leaders however neglected the calls for reform and were complacent in the idea that their Chairman Lee Hoi-chang would reign supreme.

Park Geun-hye, a supreme council member at the time, had been demanding a separation of candidates for party chairman and national president, but left the GNP in protest of its failure to carry out reforms.

GNP younger members calling for party reform yesterday was a re-enactment of what happened four years ago.

The trouble is that the GNP is still as lax as ever, content with what benefits it can accrue when the ruling party blunders. Two days ago, encouraged by the non-guilty verdict of members charged with misappropriating campaign funds in the 1996 presidential elections, the GNP went on the offensive, arguing that previous scandals related to former Chairman Lee Hoi-chang were also “political hoaxes.” However, the party has failed miserably in coming up with vision and alternatives to revive the economy, which would have created political momentum for itself.

The GNP also has been taking a populist stance. For example, in its real estate policies, it first proposed plans bolder than those of the ruling party, including heavy taxes on families owning two houses, but later backtracked when met with criticism.

Recently, some GNP assemblymen from agricultural regions have been opposing the ratification of the rice negotiations, casting doubts upon their political identities.

The GNP, which failed to fulfill its responsibility, cannot escape its share of the blame for the current conflict in state affairs. An opposition party unable to propose political agenda alternatives or to give a compelling answer to the question of why it should win back the reins of government is a drag on the people of this nation. So much so, that core members of the ruling party still claim that they are “sure to win the next presidential election.”