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Lawmakers look away from campaign promises

Posted September. 12, 2014 09:34,   


"I had a chance to look back on my promises to voters."

One second-term lawmaker of the ruling Saenuri Party made the remark after reading a recent Dong-A Ilbo article pointing out that lawmakers of 19th National Assembly elected through popular votes have kept just 14 percent of their campaign promises, far lower than previous Assemblies. Some politicians complained, saying that they still have 19 months left in their present term. However, no one can deny the fact that few of their promises with their voters have been kept since the opening of the 19th Assembly 2 years and five months ago.

Election pledges are the first promises that politicians aspiring to be lawmakers make to the electorate. Voters cast their votes, believing those promises. Still, 86 percent of such promises have yet to be kept. The chronic bad practice of turning a blind eye to campaign promises is being repeated again. It would be ridiculous for politicians to ask voters to believe their words.

At this opportunity, measures to complement the current system of campaign promises should be taken. For a starter, a new system is necessary to review and eval‍uate each lawmaker`s implementation of their promises. No matter how hard the media and civic groups bring lights to the issue, nothing can change if lawmakers turn deaf to ears to such criticisms. When the Dong-A Ilbo checked for one month the Internet homepage of each of the 244 lawmakers elected through popular votes to see how much they had kept their campaign promises, it found that more than 100 of them failed to disclose progress in their implementations.

Some suggested that political parties reflect election promise implementation rates during the process of nominating candidates for parliamentary elections.

However, both the ruling and opposition parties are reluctant to do so, claiming that it is difficult to numerically eval‍uate the implementations of election pledges. "Lawmakers should explain to voters how many efforts they have made to keep their campaign promises and why they failed to keep certain promises if there is any," said one leading member of the ruling Saenuri Party. "But it is difficult to eval‍uate quantitatively, if not qualitatively, how well lawmakers kept their campaign promises during nomination review processes."

The starting point for political reform is not far away. The public would begin to trust politicians only when they properly implement such a basic duty to keep their campaign promises. To whom would voters give their votes between politicians who keep their promises and those who do not. It is time for the electorate to respond with its votes.