Park Geun-hye's chance and crisis
All eyes in the political sector have been fixed on the recent development surrounding the strife-ridden Unified Progressive Party (UPP). Many of the party members are those who fought against the previous dictatorial governments in the 1970s and 1980s. It seems the members especially the mainstreamers belonging to NL (National Liberation) sect have become a gigantic evil in the wake of their struggle against what they called monstrous military regimes.
It is impossible to cope with the rapidly changing society with any dogmatic and stiff ideology. It is deplorable for them to cling to the outdated ‘juche’ (self-reliance) ideology worshipping North Korean founder Kim Il-sung. The progressives’ hypocrisy again proved when some lawmakers-elect under the proportional representation system registered with the National Assembly in the midst of the deepening internal feud. Among them was Yoon Geum-soon, who expressed her intention to withdraw her lawmaker post taking responsibility for the vote rigging. Their move is all the more inappropriate as it comes despite the party central committee’s recommendation for resignation.
The lingering crisis facing the progressive party will likely have far-flung impact on the major political parties and their presidential candidates ahead of the Dec. 19 presidential election. The possible split of the UPP will likely pound the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP) as the two have maintained alliance. In contrast, the ruling Saenuri Party seems elated. The governing party’s strongest presidential candidate Park Geun-hye seems to be enjoying her heyday, riding on recent positive development in the political sector in favor of her presidential ambition.
Besides a win in the general elections, she managed to have her followers including Rep. Hwang Woo-yeo to the party leadership in charge of management in the lead up to the presidential election. Park’s stunning achievement was that she beat Moon Jae-in in a Busan election by fielding a 27-year-old political novice Son Soo-jo to compete him. The tactic was to disable Moon, who had emerged as the most formidable enemy against Park in the presidential race. Park’s strategy got it as Moon lost steam, despite a slight win over Son, as seen in various post-election surveys showing his popularity declining.
However, it is premature for Park to dream a rosy dream of snatching the nation’s top job, given the existence of another really formidable contender – Ahn Choel-soo, The software mogul-turned professor still remains outside the ring, appearing in front of the public intermittently. As Ahn’s father put it, the presidential race will likely be a two-way race between Park and Ahn.
Well aware of this, Moon proposed an alliance with Ahn to form a coalition government after winning the December election. His suggestion reminds the so-called ‘DJP alliance’ in 1997 between then opposition presidential candidate Kim Dae-jung and a splinter party leader Kim Jong-pil, which allowed opposition victory over then ruling party contender Lee Hoi-chang.
The situation will likely become similar to the one seen when incumbent Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon was attempting to run for the mayoralty. Park continued to remain an independent even after he became the only candidate on behalf of the opposition camp defeating then DUP candidate Rep. Park Young-sun. Park later entered the DUP.
Lawmaker-elect Lee Hae-chan, who served as prime minister under the former late President Roh Moo-hyun government, foresaw the single candidate of the opposition camp will emerge sometime this autumn. Lee’s remark draws attention as he is the top strategist and the most promising candidate to become the DUP’s new chairman.
Rep. Chung Mong-jun, another Saenuri presidential candidate, came under criticism with his remark describing Park Geun-hye’s followers including Hwang as ‘eunuch.’ His statement is improper on all accounts. But Park needs to ponder about the criticism against her way of politicking. Even Rep. Yoo Seung-min, who had been regarded as one of Park’s closest confidants, blamed Park for her tight closeness, with difficulties in access. Compared to Park’s image of lacking communications, Ahn has been noted for his brisk contacts with the people including youngsters via various events like Youth Concert.
Now Park seems to be in a bandwagon with high possibility of winning the presidential election. But she needs to learn a lesson from the cases of her predecessors including Lee Hoi-chang who got bitter defeats twice despite general belief that he would easily win the race.