| The July 30 parliamentary by-elections have raised a fundamental question as to the direction of Korean politics. Although the ruling Saenuri Party was the victor by winning 11 seats, compared with four seats won by the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), the victory is no cause for celebration for the ruling party because it owed its victory to the public disappointment over the opposition party.
The Dong-A Ilbo asked 10 political scientists and experts about the significance of the by-elections and the future directions for both parties. They said that the NPAD should break its old frame to convince the public that it is a responsible alternative.
The NPAD, formed by the merger of Ahn Cheol-soo`s group and the Democratic Party, raised the banner of "new politics." However, it was an empty slogan. The public could not feel what new politics was, and the party repeated its chronic factional feuds.
"The NPAD didn`t have any identity to show to the electorate," said Lee Hyun-woo, a professor of political science at Sogang University. "Due to the lack of its identity, it could not win public recognition as an alternative to the ruling party."
Kim Dae-ho, director of the SocialDesign Institute, noted that as the main opposition party was swayed by the sentiment of street protestors, the public did not see it as a political party with responsibility."
Some criticized the NPAD for having failed to listen to the public`s voices despite its constant emphasis on the "people`s voices." Although a slogan urging the public to "warn" the ruling party is hung on the meeting room of the party`s co-leaders, the party failed to catch what the public wanted.
The ruling party should also get a grasp of the public sentiment soberly. The experts said that the party should not be complacent about the election results and try to keep finding a second and third Lee Jung-hyun who won in the Honam region, the opposition party`s stronghold.
Choi Chang-ryeol, a professor at Yongin University, said that the Saenuri Party should not take the results as a mandate to cover up the Sewol ferry disaster. Yoon stressed, "The answer for the Korean politics lies in Lee`s sincerity."