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Difference between political pledges of Korea and Germany
APRIL 15, 2014 05:59  
Efforts by Ahn Cheol-soo, co-leader of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy, to abolish the candidate nomination system for June local elections ran aground. A politician who was unable to guess that, if the leading Saenuri Party nominates candidates while the New Politics party doesn`t, internal resistance will be fierce, is suspicious of growth potential. It is also a shame that Ahn wasn`t able to see his inability to push through the issue. His identity as the leader of the main opposition party is also vague given that he recklessly went to the presidential office to meet President Park Geun-hye.

Nevertheless, Ahn`s Don Quixote style effort presented the political circle a chance to reflect on the meaning of pledges. By new politics, Ahn doesn`t mean abolishing the candidate nomination system, but keeping promise. But he simply wanted non-nomination system, which is a promise made by all parties. Even an elementary school student would understand this simple matter, but adults acted as if they didn`t understand and made intentional distortions.

Surfing old newspapers show that non-nomination system was recommended by city and provincial government heads who knew the damages of it. Most media supported it and all election candidates accepted it and put it into a pledge form. It was expected that it will be easily practiced but as local election date approached, no one was keeping the promise for the sake of own profits. This shows how shameful the political sector is.

Choi Kyung-hwan, floor leader of the Saenuri Party, said non-nomination is a poor pledge. It can`t be understood why this has become a bad thing all of a sudden when even President Park had supported it. Promise should be kept unless there is an important change in circumstances while executing it even if it turns out to be a bad pledge. This is what people have learned all along their life. If one breaks the promise, what he or she can do is to apologize and remain silent.

The situation has been that the Saenuri Party breaks the promise first and then the Democratic United Party follows suit albeit seemingly reluctantly. Though the situation has varied in different times, that was how things went. Under such situation, Ahn argued that things have to be done by the rules because if he went along with the atmosphere he would find himself contradicting with his new politics agenda. Media was already familiar with the parties` promise breaking custom and thus old politics newly gained issue.

In order to keep its pledge, the Social Democratic Party of Germany gave up even when it won the elections. Andrea Ypsilanti, the party`s leader in Hessen, made a pledge that there would be no coalition with left-wing parties and thus won the election. However, as it couldn`t form a government by linking with the Green Party, it sought coalition with left-wing party. To this, four members of the party in Hessen, including the Liberal Party founder Dagmar Metzger, opposed to the coalition saying it means breaking the promise. Ultimately, the party failed to form a government due to shortage of seats. Reelection followed and the Christian Democratic Union won.

Political parties exist in order to come to power. Metzger and three other members were branded as betrayers. However, the German public came to rescue. When Ypsilanti sought coalition with left-wing party, German people started to withdraw support for the Social Democratic Party. Faced with plunging public trust, hawkish member Kurt Beck backed off. The Social Democratic Party came under dovish Franz Muentefering but this later served as a momentum that leads to the current regime under its leader Sigmar Gabriel. It is always the public who make politicians abide by their promise.

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