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New Campaign Pledges Seem Unrealistic

Posted May. 10, 2006 02:59,   


On May 9, the Nation Election Commission (NEC) announced the 5/31 election campaign pledges and positions on the current issues of the five political parties with seats on the National Assembly including the Uri Party and the Grand National Party.

The main idea of most of the pledges made by the ruling Uri Party is to carry out the ongoing government policies consistently.

“Real estate market stabilization measure” has been its weapon of choice since the 2004 general elections. “Follow-up legislation of the 3/30 measure” was already realized in April when the related law passed the National Assembly.

Also included are “Implementing the construction of a multifunctional administrative city,” “Building corporate & innovative cities,” and “Promoting the Gaesong Industrial Complex,” which is a representative policy in diplomacy & security. The party yet again pledges to “achieve five percent annual growth rate,” which has never been accomplished under the current government.

The ruling party seems to focus on the continuity of its policy instead of coming up with conspicuous new policies. Some of its pledges are inconsistent with the ones made by individual candidates.

The case in point is “Creating 350,000 new jobs a year.” Given that Jin Dae-je, the Uri Party’s candidate for the governor of Gyeonggi Province, pledged to create one million new jobs (250,000 jobs a year) during his tenure, more than 70 percent of the pledged 350,000 jobs would have to be made in Gyeonggi Province, an excessive concentration in the metropolitan area.

The Grand National Party (GNP) has no different story with most of its pledges being just different versions of its years-old existing policies. “Introduction of the basic pension system” was one of major campaign pledges of the 2004 general elections. “Tax cuts such as exemption of special excise tax on LPG for taxi corporations” were also included in the 10 taxation reform items announced by GNP at the end of last year.

The legislation needed for the emergency relief service by positioning mobile phones is GNP’s another favorite policy to repeat whenever a sexual crime makes a headline. Pledges like constructing women-only detention centers and permitting women to join the army as soldiers are viewed as somewhat original. But some pointed out they are inappropriate as local election pledges. “Measure for labor shortage of SMEs” and “Construction of new cities” were criticized as lacking in substance.

The Democratic Labor Party pledged to invest 2.5 trillion won per year in regional welfare systems and establish public clinics and hospitals in each city, county, and district. But its pledge was criticized as it seems unrealistic to find such huge financial resources necessary for the plan.

In-Jik Cho cij1999@donga.com