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(EDITORIAL from The Korea Times on April 13)

All News 08:53 April 13, 2016

Judgment day
Election results will show people's assessment of Park

The general election today is taking place as President Park Geun-hye enters the latter part of her five-year term. The elections will serve primarily as the people's assessment on the job that Park has done as the nation's head of state. Even the ruling Saenuri Party spokesman Ahn Hyung-hwan admitted that failing to secure a majority in the 300-member unicameral house will be interpreted as a judgment on Park and her party.

The elections come amid a deplorable setting for the nation on many fronts. The economy is foundering, as the people struggle more than ever with declining incomes and rising poverty, job losses and social inequality. The nation's security is also at risk with mounting threats from North Korea. Our diplomats have failed to deal properly with some of the most complex issues, such as a history war with Japan. Many experts here and abroad say that the nation's democracy has backtracked during Park's presidency.

Some of these troubles are certainly unsolvable by a single administration. But Park's leadership has already shown more shortcomings than merits which have undermined our progress.

So far, the country has seen two glaring faults with her leadership.

First it is self-centered rather than being people-centered. This became more apparent in Park's behavior and speech in the months leading up to the elections. She repeatedly made politically biased remarks and regional visits that were seen as electioneering. Worst of all was when she visited her political stronghold of Daegu at the height of the candidate nomination row in her party between her loyalists and the non-Park faction.

With such behavior, it is easy to get the impression that she is immersed in her own political interests during and beyond her presidency. Park should distance herself from politics as much as she can during the rest of her term and stay focused solely on the duty that the people have entrusted her with. Maintaining political neutrality will restore some of the people's trust she has lost since entering Cheong Wa Dae.

The second trademark with Park's failed leadership is irresponsibility. The President has openly criticized the National Assembly for its uncooperative stance on bills that she sees as necessary to save the economy. Her attack on the National Assembly sounds lame because her party holds a parliamentary majority while her administration has failed to produce and implement sustainable policies. Blaming the legislature and others will dent her credibility as a leader.

With these shortcomings, the remainder of her presidency does not look very promising. After the backward way parties chose their candidates, the 20th National Assembly does not look very hopeful either. With tougher times ahead, the Assembly has a huge role to play in the nation's future. That is why voters must fill it with the responsible, people-oriented lawmakers.

The voters are urged to make a wise decision and support candidates with the most realistic policies.

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