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[Opinion] Rep. Kim Boo-kyum’s Fresh Proposal

Posted May. 15, 2008 07:27,   


It is called various things depending on the country: the “shadow cabinet” by the British Conservative Party, the “contre-gouvernement” by the French Socialist Party, and the “frontbench team” by the Irish Labor Party. All the names refer to the preparatory organization set up by the opposition party for future governance. In France, which has a mixed system of presidential and parliamentary cabinet systems, the Socialist Party calls it the “cabinet fantôme,” meaning “ghost cabinet.” As denoted by the names, the preparatory cabinet lacks reality, compared with the actual cabinet.

Rep. Kim Boo-kyum, who is running for the floor leader position of the liberal United Democratic Party, proposed Wednesday, during the party debate, that the party should amend its constitution to introduce the preparatory cabinet system. According to his proposal, the party would reform its floor leadership and policy committee into a preparatory cabinet consisting of shadow ministers filled by representatives in second or more terms. That way, he argued, the party would appeal to the public more with its “readiness” for governance. Back in 1997, during the run-up to the presidential election, the Grand National Party also popped the idea to raise public support for the party. But Kim has made the first ever official move.

Kim’s idea seems a little far-fetched. It is true that the Korean government system accommodates some features adopted under the cabinet system. Still, it is much closer to the presidential system than France and the idea does not square with Korea’s system. Elaborating on his suggestion, Kim said, “We have to abandon the hope of gaining support through the administration’s mistakes.” What he meant was, winning over the public through policies and performance rather than struggle, which does sound appealing.

But most seasoned figures in the Democratic Party may brush away the idea, saying, “Look, we are gaining ground. Koreans gave the biggest lopsided victory to Lee in both the 2007 presidential and 2008 parliamentary elections. But they are collapsing on their mistakes. What are you talking about?” We are dying to hear their opinions loud and clear.

Editorial Writer Kim Chang-hyeok (chang@donga.com)