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(Yonhap Editorial) UPP should clearly settle vote irregularity scandal

All Headlines 20:26 May 02, 2012

SEOUL, May 2 (Yonhap) -- It is shocking that wide-ranging irregularities occurred in selecting proportional representation candidates of a progressive minor party for last month's parliamentary elections. The Unified Progressive Party (UPP) confirmed Wednesday that vote irregularities occurred saying that a computer program used for its internal online ballots had been changed several times and technical errors occurred, leading to the suspension of votes and undermining the credibility of online ballots.

The party also admitted that votes had been cast en masse through a single Internet Protocol address and there were cases of proxy voting in some polling stations, indications of vote irregularities. The IP address, the online equivalent of a street address or a phone number, should be different for each voter. The party also held offline ballots in some 200 polling stations nationwide to select proportional representation candidates for the April 11 elections.

The UPP revealed its investigations of the alleged vote irregularities after two weeks of internal probe but did not suggest any clear measures to settle the problem.

The investigation results came amid tensions between the party's rival factions, and just a month before the party selects a new party leader. The party is currently run by three co-leaders.The announcement of vote irregularities is expected to deepen internal feuding of the UPP, which was created just five months ago through the merger of left-leaning political parties and forces anxious to boost their chances in the parliamentary elections.

The main stream faction led by Lee Jung-hee, a co-leader, has said it could not agree to the outcome of the internal investigation and suspected it was politically motivated. Meanwhile, factions led by two other co-leaders argue that the main stream faction should be held responsible for the irregularities and call for Lee's resignation which would mean she should be excluded from the race for the party's new leader next month.

The main stream faction insists all the three co-leaders should resign to hold responsibility for the scandal.

The UPP should know that there will be no guarantee for the party's future without clearly settling the scandal. An insufficient settlement will cause critical consequences for the proposed coalition with the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP) ahead of the presidential election in December.

Furthermore it can lose its support from progressive forces. The UPP became the third party with 13 seats in the 300-member National Assembly, next to the ruling Saenuri Party and the DUP.

The party should come up with settlement measures that can convince the people by making a candid apology.

The crisis in UPP, combined with internal strifes at the ruling and main opposition parties, is also feared to accelerate political unrest.

Although the voters ordered the political circles to pursue reform and stability through the parliamentary elections, it is feared that the 19th National Assembly would repeat the past practice of engaging in internal power struggles, particulary ahead of the Dec. 19 presidential election.

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