Updated January. 22, 2014 08:18
A new party initiated by independent lawmaker Ahn Cheol-soo announced a specific timeline that it will launch a preparatory committee to found the party in February, and complete the foundation process by end of March, before participating in the local elections in June. Since the local elections are set to become a three-way race between the ruling Saenuri Party, the main opposition Democratic Party, and Ahns new party, the public will likely pay more attention to the local elections.
There has been no case wherein a third party has achieved success to form a parliamentary negotiating bloc within the National Assembly, except parties that were based in the Chungcheong provinces. Parties focused on certain figures and those that were hurriedly formulated just ahead of elections ended up disappearing hopelessly. Rep. Ahn stressed that his party will not be a party for elections, and instead will aim to transform the political structure in the Republic of Korea into structure of productive competition." In order for the party to achieve such a goal, Ahns new party should more than anything by recruiting highly eligible people, and display meaningful achievements in the upcoming local elections.
The Ahn Cheol-soo phenomenon, which serves as the basis for Ahns new party, should be construed as the publics expression of disappointment at conventional politics rather than endorsement of Ahns individual philosophy in politics. In order for the party to succeed, the party should pool together such sense of disappointment, and present vision and specific policies by demonstrating what truly new politics is. A party excessively dependent on Ahns individual influence is neither compatible with the principle of party democracy nor sustainable.
The raison d´être of a party is to have its members win public posts and thereby enable them to achieve their vision and ideology through practical politics. In this context, the declaration by Ahns side to field candidates for all 17 gubernatorial leaders at the June local elections is desirable. If it expects the Democratic Partys concession in certain regions or have coalition with the opposition camp in mind even before nominating its candidates, it will be a self-destructive move that will dismantles the basis for its very existence.
If the local elections are staged as a three-way race, the Democratic Party will be dealt with a major blow in the Seoul metropolitan region. Considering the trend of opinion polls, the Democratic Party cannot even afford to be assured of victory in the Jeolla regions, where it will face off Ahns new party. The Democratic Party will have hard time overcoming the Ahn phenomenon if it only seeks to console public sentiment in Jeolla by having its leadership visit the provinces and describe the region as source of comfort like the grandmothers home, or resort to political engineering through coalition of the opposition camp. The Democratic Party should present innovation measures to achieve new politics, and demonstrate them through actions. If the Saenuri Party welcomes the emergence of Ahns new party in the beliefs that it will gain a windfall from it and stay complacent with the status quo, it could face an unexpected storm as well.