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[Editorial] Undemocratic Democratic Party

Posted July. 31, 2009 08:50,   


The ruling Grand National Party released yesterday video footage of parliamentary electronic voting on the highly disputed bills on media reform. It vividly shows lawmakers from the main opposition Democratic Party obstructing and manipulating the voting. Illegal actions that are not even seen at elementary schools were committed at the National Assembly, a main pillar of the government. Such an egregious incident is an opportunity to question what qualifications lawmakers should have and what the basic principles of democracy are.

The video clip posted on the ruling party’s homepage shows Democratic Party lawmaker Lee Mi-kyung going around the seats of ruling party lawmakers to push “no” buttons. Her fellow lawmaker Choo Mi-ae shut down monitors to prevent ruling party members from voting. Other Democratic Party lawmakers, including Chun Jung-bae, Park Jie-won, Cho Bae-sook, Suh Gab-won, Kim Sung-gon, Yoo Sun-ho, and Cho Jeong-sik, sat at the desks of ruling party lawmakers to hinder voting. Physical brawls between rival lawmakers also broke out. Especially astonishing is that Chun, a former justice minister, took part in these despicable acts.

Citing the lack of “nay” votes cast, the Democratic Party denied obstructing and manipulating the vote until the video footage was released. The party claimed the ruling party was lying to divert accusation of proxy votes. Upon release of the video clip, Rep. Lee admitted to what she did. She defended herself, however, by saying her act did not influence the result because ruling party lawmakers nullified “no” votes and pushed “yes” buttons again. She also called her act “legitimate self-defense” to block illegal votes by the ruling party. It is doubtful that anyone will buy her far-fetched argument.

Representative democracy can thrive only when majority rule and legitimate voting are guaranteed in parliament. The ruling party put the media bills to a vote by invoking the authority given by law to the National Assembly speaker. The Democratic Party, however, broke that law by denying majority rule as enshrined in the Constitution, blocking lawmakers from entering the main hall of the Assembly and manipulating the vote. The opposition party questioned the legitimacy of holding another vote on the broadcast bill and alleged that ruling party lawmakers voted by proxy. The legitimacy of the re-vote will be decided by the Constitutional Court and the allegation needs more investigation. Yet the Democratic Party is the culprit that caused this mess in the first place.

Nonetheless, the opposition party is oblivious to the fundamental cause of the debacle and trying to divert attention to derivative problems. Accusing the ruling party of rushing the bills through and urging the nullification of the vote, Democratic Party lawmakers submitted their resignations en masse and took to the streets. They seem to feel no pang of conscience for what they did in parliament. Worse, they defend their violent and illegal acts fair and legitimate aimed tackling “the tyranny of the majority.” With such a distorted perception of law, they are gravely misleading the public.