The oppositions huge victory in Wednesday`s local elections has deepened disharmony between the central and provincial governments and among the latter, between assemblies and educational offices. Even public servants have been shaken by the upset election results, causing fears of a lame-duck government.
The Lee Myung-bak administration asked for this. The fear of lame-duck status after the local elections had been talked about before. Public sentiment against the administrations key policies, including the four-river development project, the revision to the Sejong City blueprint, and education reform, had reached an alarming level before the poll. In addition, ruling party candidates competed against each other while their opposition rivals united. Nevertheless, the presidential office and the ruling Grand National Party failed to recognized the severity of the situation.
A case in point is the election results of provincial educational chiefs. Progressive candidates unified their candidacies in almost all of the 16 electoral districts, whereas there were too many conservative runners. In Seoul, for instance, six conservative candidates ran against a single progressive contender. The top conservative candidate lost to the progressive rival by just 1.2 percentage points. The three conservative runners won a combined 57.2 percent of the vote. In Gyeonggi Province, progressive runner Kim Sang-gon competed against three conservative contenders. The top two conservative runners won 46.5 percent of the votes, exceeding winner Kims 42.3 percent.
Powerful organizations of the ruling camp, including the presidential office, recommended their own conservative candidates. Therefore, each candidate was not active in unifying their candidacies due to their belief in their patrons. The conservative camp made no sincere effort to unify bids. As a result, more than half of the country`s schools and students are subject to experiments of progressive education.
Key officials in the administration also failed to cope with public resentment against its major policies. For a policy to take root, it must be nurtured and protected as in farming. No matter how good a policy is, it cannot be successful if the people reject it.
The Lee administration needs a major reshuffle of the Cabinet and the presidential office to prevent the president from becoming a lame duck, not to mention preparing for the next general and presidential elections. President Lee should make a drastic reshuffle of his staff. He must dismisses those who care about nothing but their own positions. Presidential staff should be willing to touch the dirt for the president and give him the proper suggestions.