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[Editorial] No Confrontation Over Primary Rules

Posted May. 04, 2007 03:20,   


The Grand National Party’s two presidential hopefuls - Lee Myung-bak, a former Seoul mayor, and Park Geun-hye, a former GNP chairperson – are meeting today to discuss ways to cope with the internal division within the party in the wake of the defeat in the April 25 by-elections. Hopefully, this meeting fulfills the expectations of the public who want politics with a broader perspective and a benign competition. Lee and Park should focus on the renewal of their party and work toward a fair primary instead of trying to change the rules to their own advantage or shift the burden of the defeat to their party. If they intended to meet just for pictures, they should not have met in the first place.

With the primary coming up in August, the confrontation between the two camps is getting intense. Over the rules of the primary, they argue, “We should reflect the public’s opinion more” or “We should not overhaul the original agreement.” This is only an internal struggle that comes from not knowing exactly what people want. This meeting between the two candidates should serve as an opportunity to end narrow-minded “primary politics.”

The crisis of the GNP stems from corruption and complacency while enjoying privileges. That is why it lost in the April by-elections and its approval rating went down to the 30 percent level. Indulging in the ’40-0’ victory in the former by-elections after the 2004 general elections, the GNP turned a deaf ear to the voices of voters, the consumers of the political market. Voters want competitive and productive politics that can make this country better, away from the old politics represented by group, money politics and regionalism.

Both Lee and Park have been obsessed with securing supporters within the party and finding other candidate’s faults, claiming that they would win the hearts and minds of party members for the victory in the primary. They did not come up with a Zeitgeist or a national development plan which was able to touch people’s hearts. What the public heard about was only Lee’s “Massive Cross-Country Canal” and Park’s “Train Ferry Plan.”

The problems created during the candidate nomination process also matter. Park, who was a party chairman, and Lee, who was involved directly and indirectly, are not free from the responsibility. Prosecutors raided current GNP chairman Kang’s office yesterday. The entire party was not aware of how serious corruption was getting while benefiting from the criticism of president Roh Moo-hyun’s mismanagement.

The two frontrunners should return the staff and lawmakers, who are now in a task force team for the primary, to the party. Since chairman Kang announced that he would definitely come up with fair rules for the primary, they should believe him. What they have to focus on is the people’s desire to improve the quality of politics.