The new party to be launched by independent lawmaker Ahn Cheol-soo has set out what it calls “basic plans for new politics.” The announcement made Tuesday drew public attention since it was the first time that Ahn and his party officially outlined their vision for a new politics.
The party’s vision is built around three core aims ― a just society, social integration, and peace on the Korean Peninsula. Kim Hyo-seuk, a co-chairman of the preparatory committee for the party, defined a just society as one without privileges, foul play or discrimination based on region or gender.
Kim said the party would try to achieve social integration by solving conflicts among people with different ideologies and from different regions, generations or classes. Regarding the third goal, the party believes that peace on the Korean Peninsula can be accomplished when there is a political consensus between ruling and opposition parties on South Korea’s policy on North Korea and a public agreement on providing humanitarian aid to the North.
Going into more detail about its vision, Kim said the party would seek a politics and economy that supported the public’s livelihood. Key policy programs will include those on rebuilding the middle class and promoting economic democratization, participatory economy and growth-friendly welfare.
There was a lot more that Kim and other officials laid out in Tuesday’s news conference that they said would contribute to breaking old politics and paving the way for them to realize “new politics.” The lengthy eloquent explanation, however, failed to dispel the confusion held by many about the identity, vision and goal of the party.
From an extreme point of view, there was nothing new about what was laid out by the party. Many of the things they mentioned were nothing but political rhetoric that differed little from the slogans we have heard from the established parties.
The main reason Ahn’s envisaged party is getting a higher approval rating than the main opposition Democratic Party is that people are fed up with the established parties and don’t trust politicians. Voters want to see a new political force that can break the current political oligopoly and change politics as a whole.
Such a new political force cannot flourish if it only relies on one popular leader. It needs to disclose a clear ideological orientation ― where it stands in the ideological spectrum ― left, right or center. That should be backed up by a detailed list of platforms and concrete action plans. No less important is that it should bring together those who are different from the current politicians in many respects. If not, voters will hand out a harsh verdict to Ahn and his party, perhaps as early as the June local elections.