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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Nov. 8)

All Headlines 07:10 November 08, 2019

Need for new politics
Politicians should regain public trust before polls

The ruling and opposition parties are preparing themselves for the general election scheduled for April 15. Most of all, they are trying to recruit promising politicians, young and reform-minded, to increase their chances of an election victory.

Yet it remains to be seen if the rival parties can regain the public's confidence in politics, which has long been mired in dog-eat-dog partisan struggles and rampant corruption. Arguably it seems too early for politicians to bring forth the politics of hope and unity, instead of the politics of confrontation and division.

The current political scene has become murkier particularly since the nation was divided sharply over President Moon Jae-in's appointment of Cho Kuk, a corruption scandal-hit former presidential aide, as justice minister. Moon has sustained a serious political setback because he reneged on his pledge to create a fair society.

Cho resigned after 35 days in office in mid-October; but the liberal Moon administration and the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) are still struggling to overcome the aftermath of the political impasse caused by the brouhaha. They should recognize the case as a political crisis and push for political reform.

Other parties are not free from criticism for partisanship and dirty politics. The main conservative opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) rallied its supporters behind its anti-Moon drive by taking advantage of the Cho case. But now it is losing its centrist backers due to a lack of leadership and failure to present a new vision for the future.

The LKP has invited the ire of the people by offering awards to its taskforce for organizing a campaign against Cho, which was seen as self-praise for the party still blamed for the massive corruption scandal surrounding former President Park Geun-hye. It also made an aborted bid to give advantages to its lawmakers in the nomination process for the April 15 elections for their involvement in violent acts to block fast-tracked bills on electoral and prosecutorial reform.

LKP Chairman Hwang Kyo-ahn is also under fire for trying to recruit a former four-star general, Park Chan-ju, as one of the potential candidates for the next general election. The LKP's credibility would be damaged further if it allows controversial figures such as Park, who allegedly mistreated his soldiers, to become party members.

On Wednesday, Hwang announced a proposal to create a consultative body to discuss a possible grand conservative integration to challenge the Moon government and his party. The proposal is certainly a political gambit to turn the tables and improve the chances of winning more seats in the polls. First, the LKP wants to join forces with the minor Bareunmirae Party. That's why Hwang recently contacted Rep. Yoo Seong-min, the former leader of the splinter party. Yet the LKP faces a bumpy road ahead before achieving a grand integration of the opposition.

Both ruling and opposition parties should now usher in new politics by pressing for political reform. They must put an end to old politics characterized by ideology, confrontation and division. More than anything else, they need to put the interests of the nation and the people before their partisan interests. Otherwise, there will be no winners in the next elections.

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