Go to contents

No self-sacrifice seen in Saenuri’s push for forcing candidates to run in unfavorable areas

No self-sacrifice seen in Saenuri’s push for forcing candidates to run in unfavorable areas

Posted December. 26, 2015 10:41,   


In the ruling Saenuri Party, lawmakers are putting pressure on peers to run in “rough areas,” or unfavorable electoral districts in the upcoming parliamentary election in April 2016. The expression “rough area” is not comfortable, as it suggests areas outside of the party’s stronghold in North and South Gyeongsang Province and southern Seoul. It is not right for the party to ask for voters’ support in what it views as a “rough area.”

Cho Yoon-seon, a former senior presidential secretary for political affairs, declared that she would run in the Seocho B district in southern Seoul. Rep. Hong Moon-jong, a key member of a faction close to President Park Geun-hye, said that Cho, along with former Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik and former Supreme Court Justice Ahn Dae-hee, should be put into a political “incubator” to nurture them into a “big tree.” The three are all considered pro-Park. Hong, however, cited Rep. Lee Jae-oh, an influential member of a non-pro-Park faction, as a candidate for an electoral district in a “rough area.” By contrast, the non-Park faction argues that Hong or former Finance Minister Choi Kyung-hwan should set examples by running in “rough areas.”

The controversy over running in “rough areas” was in part caused by the party’s leadership. After President Park tried to have her close confidants nominated in the stronghold region, calling them “faithful people,” Rep. Kim Yong-tae said last month that those endorsed by the president should run in Seoul or surrounding areas currently represented by opposition lawmakers. Contrasted by the “sunny areas” where candidates endorsed by the president can easily win, the shadows of the “rough areas” get darker. Even Saenuri Chairman Kim Moo-sung, who vowed to exercise no influence in candidate nominations, asked former Supreme Court Justice Ahn Dae-hee to run in one of the “rough areas.” Is it not another form of exercising influence on nominations? All we see is political calculations of pushing political rivals into a “rough area.”

Before the 1996 parliamentary elections, former President Kim Young-sam nominated many reform-minded candidates in electoral districts where opposition parties were strong. He even put former Prime Minister Lee Hoi-chang who once stood up against the president, in charge of his party’s election campaign, winning the elections to his party’s victory. It is undesirable to put pressure on some candidates to run in unfavorable areas. With Ahn Chul-soo’s new party eating into the Saenuri Party’s support base, the ruling party is leaning further toward the right with vested interest. We hope that the party does not waste time and energy debating over running in “rough areas,” only to regret it later.