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Emergence of Ahn뭩 party to create 3-way race in local elections
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 Ahn뭩 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 뱎arty for elections, and instead will 밶im 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, Ahn뭩 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 Ahn뭩 new party, should be construed as the public뭩 expression of disappointment at conventional politics rather than endorsement of Ahn뭩 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 Ahn뭩 individual influence is neither compatible with the principle of party democracy nor sustainable.

The raison d닿tre 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 Ahn뭩 side to field candidates for all 17 gubernatorial leaders at the June local elections is desirable. If it expects the Democratic Party뭩 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 Ahn뭩 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 뱒ource of comfort like the grandmother뭩 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 Ahn뭩 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.

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