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[Editorial] President Aspirants Seeking Regionalism

Posted May. 28, 2007 03:25,   


The presidential hopefuls of the so-called “pan-ruling camp” are frequenting the house of former President Kim Dae-jung. Following the recent visits of former Gyeonggi Province Governor Sohn Hak-kyu, Uri Party lawmaker Kim Hyuk-kyu and former Uri Party Chairman Chung Dong-young, Kim Han-gill, the head of the New Party for Centrist Reform and Alliance (NPCRA), will pay his visit today and Democratic Party leader Park Sang-cheon will take his turn tomorrow. Former Prime Ministers Lee Hae-chan and Han Myeong-sook are also expected to visit Kim’s residence within this week. It’s obvious that they are trying to capitalize on the former president’s influence instead of trying to improve their highly unappealing images.

There is one simple reason the presidential aspirants of the pan-ruling block desperately seek endorsement from Kim; they believe Kim still has significant influence on voters in Jeolla provinces. They label the Grand National Party as “old-guard conservative forces” and call themselves reform forces that can be symbolized by the words, “future,” “integration” and “peace.” Sohn also declared to create a new political group that seeks future oriented progress, rational, and programmatic reforms.

However, they have been following the old politics of “three Kims” that were based on the regionalism. They are turning back the clock of history and political developments with outdated and obsolete political practices. Even the President Roh Moo-hyun who had said the establishment of the NPCRA would revive regionalism, recently took a step back, saying “It is inevitable to accept the general trend.”

Former President Kim said, “The participation of former presidents in real politics will go against the development of democracy.” However, Kim said during his talk with Chung on Saturday, “The GNP is the only one throwing punches. In order to break the deadlock, a ‘life or death’ decision should be made.” This is clearly intervention in politics and, hence, as he had stated, Kim has run counter to the development of democracy.

The bigger problem is, however, the attitude of the politicians who do not make efforts to become a suitable person in this new era, and who try to be the head of the nation with the support of a former president whose political base is deeply rooted in regionalism. I’d like to ask a question to Sohn who is having the highest public support among them at five to six percent. What did the public tell you during your 100-day nationwide tour? Did they ever ask you to go back to old-politics?