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A Coalition Government?

Posted December. 19, 2007 08:45,   


Being a presidential candidate is a great honor. Few boastingly proclaim what they would do if they became president. The thing is that responsibility comes with honor. Voters pay careful attention to candidates who say they will “reform,” ”change,” “make,” or “materialize” something. That is because people firmly believe that candidates have a giant dream of becoming president, and that their promises are, therefore, the products of long and careful preparation. For that reason, the promises of candidates are called “public promises” in Korean.

In reality, such promises often turn into invalid ones, because candidates blurt out promises that they cannot make good on or have no intention of keeping in order to win elections. Most people make little fuss about it, thinking that it is the nature of elections. Some people pardon and give advice to the president-elect, saying, “Frankly admit things that you cannot implement and make good on the things that you can do within your abilities.” This, however, is a scam on the people. A good example is a “coalition government” that candidates suggested at the end of the campaign season.

Chung Dong-young, the candidate of the ruling United New Democratic Party, proposed an “anti-corruption coalition government” to two candidates from opposition parties. Yesterday, independent Lee Hoi-chang asked Park Geun-hye, former chairman of the Grand National Party to form a “coalition government” with him. What a comedy. Setting up a coalition government requires an overhaul of basic government structure. It is impossible to make such a critical proposal only a few days before a vote. It is no different from suggesting the format of a competition right before the finish line.

In 1997, former South Korean president Kim Dae-jung successfully won the presidential election after agreeing to a coalition with Kim Jong-pil, an opposition party leader. In 1981, the French Socialist and Communist parties created a coalition government as well. But they did not come up with the plan out of the blue right before the vote. President Kim at least had the decency of pretending to have pondered the issue for several months. He did not attempt to dupe people like this. Moreover, the person who used to blame his new coalition partner as a corrupt conservative group is now asking for a coalition. Without considering the public to be idiots, no one could logically do such a thing.

Bang Hyeong-nam, Editorial Writer, hnbhang@donga.com