- Democratic Party Needs to Change Everything Except Its Name
Representative Sohn Hak-kyu, chairman of the main opposition Democratic Party, offered to resign from his post to take responsibility for his party's defeat to an independent Seoul Mayor candidate Park Won-soon in a competition for a unified liberal candidate. Amid questions from reporters and flashes from cameras, Sohn rides en elevator to depart from Lawmakers Hall last night. (Photo by Kang Yoon-joong, Oct 4th, 2011.)
Democratic Party chairman Sohn Hak-kyu yesterday offered to resign to take responsibility for the party's loss in the unified opposition primary for Seoul mayor.
Sohn said it was a stark fact that the largest opposition party, with a 60-year-history, was unable to put forth a candidate for mayor. He said he would work for the Oct 26 by-election, even if he resigns his position, and this was the way to more honorably support Park Won-soon, who won the nomination.
We wonder if this is just another illustration showing the current state of the Democratic Party, which has lost even its sense of being as the largest opposition party.
There's a side to Sohn's resignation we can understand, but we don't believe this is a solution to the fundamental problem. The crisis of the Democratic Party, confirmed in this primary, goes beyond the largest opposition party being unable to field a candidate for Seoul mayor.
The significance lies in the lamentations of party figures who complained that they'd never feared the votes of young voters in their 20s and 30s like they did this time.
Who are these people in their 20s and 30s? They contributed to the founding of the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations, and were the engine that led the victory in last year's regional elections and the main stars who have shored up the Democratic Party's base.
These voters have been leaving the Democratic Party as they begin searching for a new window of communication, the civil society candidate.
The reason is self-explanatory. The Democratic Party had only jumped on the bandwagon for high levels of support from young people; it failed to read their true desires and hopes and communicate with them. It was natural that they would ignore the party at the emergence of an "alternative."
In fact, even if you paid just a bit of attention, you can know what young people want. You could say the key is their desperate lives due to issues such as educational costs like tuitions; employment issues like unemployment and irregular employment; and housing, symbolized by the chaos surrounding rental apartments.
In this regard, the support sent by young voters to the Democratic Party in last year's local elections was no different from an SOS sent by them to the largest opposition party. In fact, the Democratic Party failed to present a proper solution for anything.
When the "Ahn Chul-soo Phenomenon" erupted, too, the party simply made political calculations; it failed to bear in mind the lessons. In the meantime, "Opposition Party #1" and "Party No. 2" lost their value as brands.
There's no way out as long as the Democratic Party remains in a panic, mired in shame and desperation forever because of its troubles.
There's a solution in the critical mind of the common citizen, including young voters. The party must take their worries and feeling, tie them together as policy, and put them into practice.
To do this, the door must be open to outsiders, including civic groups, beyond simply receiving transfusions from them. Change the people and the policies, too, will become polished. Revolutionary change is practically impossible within the current framework, in which the party has been content with its vested interests.
This is an urgent time, in which the party needs a shock that changes everything except its name. Only this can rescue the Democratic Party and party politics from their crisis. (Editorial, the Kyunghyang Daily News. October 5, 2011)