The June 2 local elections will select officials to serve the provinces and municipalities, but will also serve as a report card for the administration and each political party. This is why the ruling Grand National Party call the elections a confrontation between forces to pull off economic success and those seeking to hinder economic revival. The main opposition Democratic Party is trying to use the elections as an opportunity to punish incapable and unilateral forces. In addition, the elections will serve as a barometer of public opinion ahead of the 2012 general and presidential elections.
In this sense, the image of each party and their political achievements and mistakes will determine the election results. No less important, however, is the candidates each party will field. So each party should carefully choose a candidate based not only on his or her reputation but also on integrity and capability. Fielding candidates without consideration of such requirements is asking for trouble.
In this regard, the mistake the Grand National Party made in the process of candidate selection for the 2008 general elections deserves renewed attention. At the time, party officials loyal to President Lee Myung-bak chose candidates for the sake of petty political interest. This not only adversely affected the election results but also hurt party unity. In the wake of the elections, the party was split into the pro-Lee Myung-bak faction and a group backing former party chairwoman Park Geun-hye. Worse, the pro-Park coalition, the predecessor of the Future Hope Solidarity, was set up outside the party. Then party secretary general Lee Bang-ho promised to reflect in candidate screening contributions to Lee Myung-baks victory in the presidential election, but failed to deliver. This dashed the hope of the public and party members. A series of by-election defeats afterward is largely because of the partys failure to nominate proper candidates. Had the ruling party gotten off to a good start with the proper nominations, the situation would be much different.
The country has come a long way since the first local elections in 1995. Corruptions, ineptness in provincial and municipal administration, and political inclinations have yet to be corrected, however. This also has something to do with inappropriate candidate nomination. If unqualified candidates are fielded, elections will go awry no matter how hard the electorate tries to cast their ballots. To help the local autonomy system take firm root and facilitate reform of provincial and municipal administration, each party must nominate qualified candidates.
The ruling and opposition parties will begin full-fledged preparations for the local elections with candidate screening. They must remember that the people will judge them through the elections.