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Politics of promise surrendered to election advantages

Posted April. 11, 2014 04:47,   


“Candidate number two” (traditional elective symbol for the main opposition party) has survived, but “promise-based politics” is dead.

This is what the New Politics Alliance for Democracy would get in its report card as a result of overturning its pledge to abolish the candidate nomination system for lower-level administration chiefs and councilors on Thursday. Now, the party can nominate candidates for the elections for lower-level administration positions, but the justification for merging the parties has been undermined, signaling the end of its “promise-based politics.” This internal embroilment that has shaken the 38-day-old party will deal a serious blow to NPAD Co-chairman Ahn Cheol-soo’s leadership.

In a party vote and an opinion poll conducted by the party committee, 53.44 percent supported the candidate nomination system while 46.56 percent opposed nominations on average. In detail, in the opinion poll, 50.2 percent opposed nominations while 49.8 percent supported nominations. But in the party vote, 57.1 percent supported nominations while 42.9 percent opposed nominations. Although both of the margins were narrow, it is interpreted that strong support from party members has played a significant role in drawing the decision to re-discuss the issue of candidate nominations.

After the announcement of the survey results, Co-chairmen Ahn Cheol-soo and Kim Han-gil held a press conference in the National Assembly and “apologized for not being able to keep their promise regardless of the process or reason.”

Ahn said in the press conference, “Politician Ahn Cheol-soo’s conviction cannot have the same weight as that of the whole party members for sure… I believe what the party members want is to win the elections first and get the power to check the administration and the ruling party.” He also reiterated that he is committed to winning the elections by saying, “(I) will spare no effort to win the elections. I will take the lead and do my best to win the elections.”

After the party’s decision to conduct a party vote and an opinion poll on the nomination issue, Ahn said he would put his “political career at stake.” Probably affected by such resoluteness, Choi Won-sik, the head of the party’s strategy and planning department, receded from his position upon the announcement of the survey results. Some speculated that Ahn might also resign as the press conference was delayed six hours from the originally-scheduled time. However, it has turned out that he maintains the position for the time being.

Regarding the results, Moon Jae-in, the leader of pro-Roh Moo-hyun faction within the party, said that the party leadership should lead the party to “focus only on winning” the local elections.

Nevertheless, the residual bitterness between the mainstream group and the progressive pro-Roh Moo-hyun faction in the party, which have strongly confronted each other in the course of reconsideration, does not seem to be easily eliminated. Observers forecast that the two sides will continue to be in conflict with each other because it is the pro-Roh Moo-hyun faction members who gave a momentum to reconsidering the abolition of the candidate nomination system. Moreover, with the local elections only 55 days away, another internal conflict may arise in the process of expediting candidate nominations for lower-level administration chiefs and councilors.