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- Opposition Alliance Must Aim Higher than Simply Running Single Candidates
With one month remaining before the April 11 general election, the Democratic United Party and the Unified Progressive Party have reached a final agreement on forming an opposition alliance.
In 16 constituencies, single UPP candidates will run on behalf of the opposition alliance, while in 76 others a single opposition candidate will run after being selected by primary elections involving candidates from each of the two parties.
“This will go down as the first step in bringing back democracy in the Republic of Korea, which is regressing,” said DUP leader Han Myeong-sook at the agreement signing ceremony. UPP leader Lee Jung-hee, too, evaluated the occasion by saying, “We have come to an important turning point beyond which the democratic progressive camp may not fail again.”
As the two leaders said, this agreement is highly significant given that it has achieved a nationwide, comprehensive opposition alliance for the first time in Korean election history. The democratic progressive camp has created a vessel big enough to contain the public’s desire to pass judgment on the Lee Myung-bak administration.
The DUP, in particular, has made concessions for the sake of the greater cause that are worthy of considerable praise, even accepting demands for a primary election for Seoul’s Dobong A, the constituency of In Jae-geun, the wife of former senior advisor Kim Geun-tae.
The destructive power of an opposition alliance was proven at the June 2 local elections in 2010 and the October 26 Seoul mayoral by-election last year.
At the local elections, the opposition camp won mayor’s and governor’s seats in Incheon, Gangwon-do, Chungcheongbuk-do and Gyeongsangnam-do by running single candidates, particularly for local authority head positions.
At the Seoul mayoral by-election, too, single opposition candidate Park Won-soon beat Grand National Party (now Saenuri Party) candidate Na Kyung-won.
While opposition solidarity may be an essential condition for election victory, it is not alone sufficient to guarantee victory. At last year’s parliamentary by-election on April 27 in Gimhae, Gyeongsangnam-do, the opposition settled on a single candidate at the last moment but lost the election after failing to derive a synergistic effect by doing so.
The leaderships of the DUP and the UPP need to learn lessons from this and look for ways to minimize adverse aftereffects in the process of selecting single candidates and conducting subsequent election campaigns.
The primary aim of the opposition alliance is probably the passing of a public verdict on those currently in power by way of the general election. This, however, is not enough.
The alliance must aim further and higher than mere strategies for fielding single candidates. In other words, the democratic progressive camp, after taking control of parliament, must carry on by showing what kind of country it will create if it wins the presidential election.
In this regard, we have taken note of the fact that the DUP and UPP have adopted a joint policy agreement based on a framework of economic democratization and universal welfare.
This constitutes a step beyond those of previous opposition alliances, which neglected policy differences while emphasizing only single candidate arrangements. The two parties claim to have agreed on a common position of “total opposition” to the Korea-US Free Trade, where the DUP had previously called for “renegotiation” and the UPP for “total abolition” of the agreement.
The democratic progressive camp must prove itself fit to take control of national government, not only through the general election itself, but through subsequent policies that cater to the specific demands of the public.
As the general election approaches, in particular, it is possible that the reason of voters may be impaired by strong red-baiting and matadors. The only way to overcome this is developing policies to restore the livelihoods of the public.
(Editorial, the Kyunghyang Daily News. March 12, 2012)
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