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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Feb. 19)

All News 07:10 February 19, 2020

'Delusive' merger
:Creation of UFP is only result of 'temporary truce'

The main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) and two minor conservative parties have launched a merged party with the crucial general election less than two months away.

Separately, three other minor parties, whose support bases are in the South and North Jeolla provinces, the so-called "Honam" region, are also seeking a merger ahead of the April 15 polls.

A merger of political parties ahead of crucial polls is far from impressive. From a voter's perspective, it is rather a delusive attempt just to win. Such an attempt deserves contempt seeing what has been proven throughout Korea's political history. Even if they succeed, there are a number of reasons to be quite sure that a merger aimed at only an election victory without "chemical integration" won't benefit the people at all. It will only serve the needs of certain political groups.

Winning more seats means more power, so parties with few chances of winning the election are naturally tempted to gather forces to win. But a merger with this purpose cannot last long after the election is over. This is just a matter of common sense.

This is also why we are not too optimistic about the future of the United Future Party (UFP), created as a result of a merger of the LKP, the New Conservative Party and Forward for Future 4.0. As the UFP's inaugural Chairman Hwang Kyo-ahn, who was the LKP chairman, stated in the launch ceremony, Monday, their shared goal was to unify conservative forces ahead of the election in order to achieve a "popular judgment against the dictatorship of President Moon Jae-in and a government being run by North Korea followers."

And that is it. This is a story conservative politicians have long repeated since President Moon was inaugurated in May 2017. Many people are indeed worried about what the liberal administration and the ruling Democratic Party of Korea have been doing, but they will be reluctant to vote for the UFP as well. To win and become an "alternative power," the UFP needs to do more than just vilify Moon and capitalize on deep-rooted ideological divisions in this nation.

It is not hard to imagine what the UFP will be like after the election because it was created through a "temporary truce" among various groups with different political interests. The biggest obstacle ahead will probably be their failure to overcome the legacy of the impeached former conservative President Park Geun-hye, seeing that Rep. Yoo Seong-min, who was the New Conservative Party leader, boycotted the inaugural ceremony for the new party apparently due to differences with Chairman Hwang over how to deal with Park and her staunch loyalists. Notably, Rep. Yoo had opposed a "merger of conservative forces for only the merger's sake" because of the election, maintaining that rigorous, wide-ranging reform and efforts to leave the past behind should precede any attempt for a merger.

Equally illusive is a merger attempt by the three "Honam-based" minority parties ― the Bareunmirae Party, the Party for Democracy and Peace and the New Alternative Party. They are desperate to survive, but there is ― and should be ― no future for any political grouping resorting to regionalism.
(END)

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