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[Editorial] Stubborn Democratic Party of Korea

Posted July. 27, 2009 07:26,   


The main opposition Democratic Party Saturday held a candlelight protest against a law on media reform at a square in front of Seoul Rail Station after its lawmakers tendered their resignations en masse.

The party created a committee for a struggle aimed at nullifying the law, launching a 100-day street campaign across the country.

With the party abandoning the National Assembly, pending bills on the people’s livelihood and welfare will obviously remain adrift for a long period. The party is betting everything on invalidating the media reform bills passed by the ruling Grand National Party, which has a parliamentary majority. The opposition party is likely to refuse to return to parliament. Even if it does, it is questionable whether it will cooperate in deliberating other pending bills.

Around 3,500 bills, including one on temporary workers, were left pending in the Assembly after lawmakers failed to deliberate them in the latest extraordinary session that ended Saturday. A number of disputed labor bills are also awaiting parliamentary deliberation. A delay in the handling of a bill on reforming the pension system for government employees will result in government losses of 1.2 billion (961 million U.S. dollars) per day.

It seems that Democratic Party lawmakers have offered to resign en masse and have taken to the streets as part of the party’s strategy to gain the upper hand in the October by-elections by uniting its supporters, broadcasters and left-wing groups. Certain party members, however, warn that the prolonged delay in the handling of the bills could come back to haunt the party like a boomerang.

The Democratic Party’s tendency toward street protests is in stark contrast with Japan’s biggest opposition party of the same name. The Japanese party’s attention to the Japanese people’s livelihood could help unseat the Liberal Democratic Party after 57 years in power. Japan’s Democratic Party pledged to put budgetary priority on enhancing the people’s livelihood, including financial support for children until they finish middle school.

Japan’s Democratic Party is expected to win the Aug. 30 general elections and end decades of the Liberal Democratic Party’s rule. This is because the opposition party has gained voter confidence by concentrating on enhancing its policy capabilities.

In 2000, the U.S. Democratic Party accepted a Supreme Court’s ruling on the presidential election victory by the Republican Party. The Democratic Party, however, got power back eight years later with policies differentiated from those of the Bush administration. The Democratic Party is leading the Obama administration with a majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

If Korea’s Democratic Party is to become a ruling party, it needs to learn from the examples of the parties with the same name in Japan and the United States.