Main opposition in crisis
Key to victory lies in providing people with vision
The main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP) decided Sunday to adopt an interim emergency committee to be led by a floor leader who will be elected on May 4 in an effort to overcome the leadership vacuum following the sudden resignation of former leader Han Myung-sook. Moon Sung-geun, a member of the party’s top decision-making Supreme Council, will serve as acting leader until then. A special party convention will be held on June 9 to choose new leadership that will be in charge of day-to-day party affairs in the run-up to the Dec. 19 presidential election.
It’s ironic to see the DUP adopt the emergency system after suffering a defeat in the April 11 elections, as the governing Saenuri Party shifted to an interim leadership committee under Park Geun-hye before the polls amid mounting antagonism against President Lee Myung-bak.
With Sunday’s decision, the DUP patched up the post-election rift temporarily but the factional strife could heat up further over party hegemony and the choosing of the party’s presidential candidate.
Most political pundits said after the elections that the party deserved the loss due to its pre-election arrogance and prejudice. The party’s leadership and many ordinary members were prematurely optimistic about an election victory in the belief that the opposition alliance with the left-leaning Unified Progressive Party (UPP) would be powerful enough to defeat the governing party in hotly contested electoral districts.
The DUP saw the polls as a referendum for President Lee and his ruling party but what was judged was ironically the party itself. It’s natural for the party to be subject to blame for its pre-election policy zigzags and makeshift remedies on outstanding issues. More than anything else, the DUP’s change in stance on the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement and the Jeju naval base was serious enough to worry neutral voters, let alone conservatives. Voters may have ditched the DUP that begged for votes without regarding national security and the future. People also vented their anger against the opposition party that showed nepotism and incompetency in choosing candidates for the elections.
A scandal involving a foul-mouthed co-host of a popular podcast was the climax in the party’s series of pre-election blunders. As the scandal erupted, the party should have acted decisively but it didn’t.
The DUP stands at a crossroads now: coming from behind to take a path toward victory in December or losing pace in the face of strong conservative forces. First of all, the party should be humble, a valuable lesson it must have learned from its latest election failure. Before criticizing the ruling party, it must reflect on its own problems.
The DUP must try to listen to voters and provide people with a vision for the future, shying away from the endless political mudslinging. The key to the ultimate victory may lie in finding how to win the hearts and minds of the people by tackling their chronic woes.