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[Op-Ed] Europe’s Leftists vs. Korea’s Leftists

Posted July. 02, 2009 08:11,   


British Children’s Secretary Ed Balls released an Education White Paper Tuesday saying teachers in England will need licenses that need to be renewed every five years. English schools will also receive a grade ranging from “A” to “D” that will help parents choose schools. Children failing to reach expected levels in English and math will get remedial lessons free. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Monday, “If youths refuse a job offer or training place, they will not get benefits.” British teachers and labor criticized the government’s policy. This is weird that the center-left administration coldly treats teachers and workers, who have long supported the Labor Party.

With a year left before general elections, Brown cannot enjoy the luxury of telling right-wing policies from left wing. In the U.K., the public as well as experts say the Labor Party will lose the elections next year. Since the government is eager to lure voters, it has released all kinds of policies preferred by the people. The results of the European elections last month also imply a resurgence of the right, not the left. The result dealt a serious blow to leftists in France and Italy as well as left-leaning governments in the U.K. and Spain. Europe’s leftists were literally shocked since they believed that the global financial crisis would be a chance to oust the right from the political scene.

The Finnish chairman of Royal Dutch Shell and of Nokia Jorma Ollila suggests an explanation. In an interview with the Financial Times, he said taking advantage of globalization and giving poor people with a quality education and a systemized welfare policy could be the right solution. Shortly after the European elections, Newsweek said leftist governments that fail to create jobs through business-friendly policies or inspire hope with youths via competitive education will not regain power.

Compared to their European counterparts, Korea’s leftists are extremely stubborn. In addition to sticking to old-fashioned policies, they seem to want to overthrow the government via violence, not elections. Their anti-business and uncompetitive education policies will not contribute to the prosperity of Korea and its people. The country’s leftists need to learn a lesson from their European counterparts.

Editorial Writer Kim Sun-deok (yuri@donga.com)