Published : 2013-03-13 19:57
Updated : 2013-03-13 19:57
Former independent presidential candidate Ahn Cheol-soo has returned home, pledging to “walk the thorny road to usher in a new politics.”
Ahn’s plan to run in the April by-election in Seoul’s Nowon C district has left the main opposition Democratic United Party flustered. The party’s leaders are anxious, not knowing how to respond.
The party is split over whether it should field a candidate of its own or return the favor Ahn made in the presidential election. He dropped out of the presidential race to make DUP candidate Moon Jae-in the single opposition contender.
Ahn’s comeback is evoking a sense of crisis among DUP members as it could be a prelude to a sweeping reconfiguration of opposition political forces.
A recent survey has amplified anxiety as it showed the DUP could suffer a humiliating blow if the software entrepreneur-turned-politician created his own party.
According to the survey conducted by Gallup Korea last week, Ahn’s party would surge past the DUP to become the second major political party.
Ahn’s hypothetical party won support from 23 percent of the respondents, while the DUP gained backing from 11 percent. The ruling Saenuri Party was way ahead of the other two with support from 37 percent.
The survey outcome is shocking as it shows the approval rating of a political party with more than 120 lawmakers is lower than that of a party that has yet to be created by a political novice.
The DUP has only itself to blame for its dismal approval rating. Since its defeat in the presidential election, it has made no serious effort to recreate itself. The party’s major factions have wasted time playing the blame game.
The party set up an election assessment committee to figure out what went wrong and determine who should bear the responsibility. The committee held the mainstream faction responsible and urged its key figures to step down. But its recommendations have fallen on deaf ears.
The DUP also irked many by creating an impasse over President Park Geun-hye’s proposal for government reorganization. Its obstruction has left the incoming government paralyzed at a time when North Korea is threatening to attack the South with nuclear weapons and the economy is rudderless.
The party has done a great disservice to its cause by demanding the resignation of the MBC president in return for passing the government reorganization bill. Its demand has left many wondering what the resignation of the broadcasting company’s chief has to do with government reorganization.
In a word, the party has failed to display any commitment to reform since its election loss. It was only after Ahn announced his comeback that the party hurriedly came up with a reform plan. It is still not too late for the party to make serious efforts toward reform. It needs to act swiftly to avoid the nightmare of becoming a minor opposition party.