Crisis of progressives
UPP should take measures to convince voters
Primary election fraud allegations against the minor opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) proved true through the party’s announcement of its internal probe results Wednesday.
What was revealed is shocking enough to remind voters that the bygone era of election fraud is coming back in Korea after boasting the establishment of procedural democracy ― elections free from corruption. While the party’s mainstreamers, usually members of the pro-North Korea NL (National Liberation) group, play down the rigging as ``problems arising merely from poor election management,’’ non-mainstreamers and outside experts raise the possibility of ``purported fabrications.’’
The progressive party’s investigation team said the internal primaries held March 14-18 to elect proportional representation candidates for the April 11 parliamentary elections were totally shoddy and fraudulent elections. ``We feel grave responsibility for distorting the will of party members and people due to the rigging,’’ Cho Jun-ho, head of the investigation team, said.
Irregularities citied by the team include signing a contract with an unqualified primary management company, lacking in personnel to keep a watch on the progress of voting on the spot and allowing program corrections in online voting. Also in online polls were votes made en masse by those who have no voting rights.
In a nutshell, Cho admitted, there was a wide range of vote riggings and the primary elections lost justification and trust. Earlier, the left-leaning party had touted its proportional candidate election method as a landmark that combined online and on-spot votes in the form of an audition.
The UPP’s latest election rigging could result in splitting the nascent party, depending on how it is tackled. At the moment, the party’s factions allegedly differ on remedies ― the NL group, taking a dominant position in the party, opposes removing the candidates in the upper echelon of the proportional list, whereas non-mainstreamers call for their voluntary resignation and strong punishment of those responsible for the latest fiasco.
The UPP was established in December by members with three different political ideologies: some from the NL group; former members of the People’s Participation Party led by former Health and Welfare Minister Ryu Shi-min; and people from the so-called People’s Democracy (PD), who are labor activists but critical of the North Korean regime.
The big question is whether the prosecution will embark on investigating the case. As the primaries were the party’s internal matter, the prosecution has been reluctant on its own probe. However, it can begin its investigation if it judges the severity of the irregularities serious enough to arouse people’s concern. Or should a petition be filed, the prosecution can begin its investigation at any time.
The prosecution’s probe will set off far-reaching ripples, given the allegations that the party’s investigation team didn’t reveal all the wrongdoings detected in its probe. Political watchers say the probe may widen further to look into the leftist party as a whole.
In this respect, the UPP should take strong measures to convince voters.