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[Op-Ed] Pro-Roh Alliance?

Posted January. 18, 2010 08:19,   


The People’s Participation Party was officially launched yesterday. The liberal party can be called one that upholds the ideology of the late President Roh Moo-hyun since it brings together his close associates. In a statement, the party said Roh’s life will serve as its guiding principle. Former Unification Minister Lee Jae-jeong will lead the new party and its five supreme council members, including former senior presidential secretary for public information Chun Ho-seon, served as high-ranking officials under the Roh administration. The party platform is what the former president sought to achieve, and is literally a group of pro-Roh figures.

Their emergence into a new political force has long been expected. The homepage Roh set up after he left office was considered the foundation for the reentry by Roh and his followers into politics, though they denied it. A closer look at the launching process as explained by party members, however, shows preparation began before Roh’s death last year. The official proposal on founding the party was made in August last year after his death, but they reportedly began formulating the idea in October 2008. This has led to speculation over what role Roh played in forming the party while alive and what role he would have played had he not committed suicide.

The new party’s first target is the June local elections. It seeks to earn 20 percent of the vote and become the second-largest party in the Gyeongsang and Jeolla provinces. The party also wants to win at least one constituency in the Seoul metropolitan area. Though it expressed a willingness to seek cooperation with the opposition, opposition parties have not welcomed this suggestion. The main opposition Democratic Party, which has sought to unify opposition parties, has not hid its frustration. Certain experts say the new party could advance through consolidation with opposition parties.

The Uri Party, which was launched as a party for Roh in the run-up to the 17th general elections, was dissolved 44 months after its founding despite pledging to last a century. So how long will this new liberal party last? Chairman Lee said, “We will forge a future with the people over the next 10, 50 or 100 years.” Nobody will remember what path the Democratic Party has taken since it has keeps reorganizing itself. Changes to party alignments for elections speak volumes about the backwardness of Korean politics.

Editorial Writer Lee Jin-nyong (jinnyong@donga.com)