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[Editorial] Flawed Floor Leader Election

Posted May. 19, 2009 08:27,   


The election for ruling Grand National Party floor leader and chief policymaker is just two days away. Rep. Hwang Woo-yea has teamed up with Rep. Choi Kyung-hwan (pro-Park Alliance) to face two other candidate teams - Ahn Sang-soo and Kim Seong-jo and Chung Eui-hwa and Lee Jong-koo. The tripartite race will determine the party’s floor leader for the next year but the events leading up to the election is cause for concern.

Each duo has its own campaign pledge to be mentioned in a policy debate tomorrow. Unfortunately, they all seem like a false gesture to win the hearts of the public when those in the party are really interested in the power dynamics between the pro-Lee Myung-bak and pro-Park Geun-hye factions and the intention of party elites. Speculation is building over Hwang teaming up with Choi, with some criticizing the union as the work of an “invisible hand” to distort the election by party chairman Park Hee-tae and Rep. Lee Sang-deuk. In other words, the pairing could be an alternative to the party leadership`s failed move to name as floor leader Rep. Kim Moo-sung, a senior aide in the group close to Park Geun-hye. Regardless of what the truth is, it is disappointing to see events leading up to the floor leader election unfolding in such a way.

The positions of floor leader and chief policymaker are comparable to field commanders on a battlefield. They are responsible for achieving the goals and identity of their administration in the National Assembly. They should lead their lawmakers on the front line, negotiate with opposition parties, and challenge them if necessary. It is also up to them to develop a policy mix that can win over the people by coordinating with the government.

A rational floor leader election should focus more on if candidates have the leadership, political and administrative capabilities and negotiating power against both the ruling and opposition parties to qualify them for such important positions. Candidates should compete with their vision and methodology for their leadership in the National Assembly and the party. The ruling party should feel all the more responsible for demonstrating a mature election given its support from the administration and its control of 170 or 57 percent of the 296 National Assembly seats. Unfortunately, its parochial mentality shown in the election process has disappointed everyone. Party unity might be important but its members should think about more pending challenges. This criticism is not directed at certain individuals, but to the party as a whole.

The latest development in the floor leader election makes the public wonder if the ruling party is oblivious to its main task of contemplating what should be done in its second and third years, often referred as the golden age of an administration. Its efforts must demonstrate the legitimacy of the administration and contribute to advancing the people’s welfare. The ruling party can truly become a powerful representative of the people only when supported by a consensus of its lawmakers based on a sense of responsibility and calling. The starting point, of course, is to have a rational and mature election of its floor leader.