Rep. Park Young-sun, the interim leader of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy, pledged Tuesday to rebuild her party, which suffered a crushing defeat in last week’s parliamentary by-elections, by breaking away from old practices and inertia.
In a news conference a day after being chosen by NPAD lawmakers to lead the embattled party until its national convention early next year, Park said she would do her utmost to stay in line with the public viewpoint. Among reform measures she suggested was the elimination of the so-called strategic nominations, which were used to field some controversial candidates in the July 30 by-elections without going through due process.
But she made no mention of whether her party would stop blocking the passage of bills aimed at boosting the sluggish economy and improving the safety system that revealed severe flaws in the initial handling of a deadly ferry sinking in April.
The liberal opposition party sought to frame last week’s by-elections as a verdict on the conservative government’s incompetence in coping with disasters and emergencies. Park, who became NPAD floor leader in May, has said her party would not cooperate in passing any bill until a special law was enacted to investigate the cause of the ferry tragedy and offer compensation to the victims’ families.
The results of the by-elections, in which the opposition party won only four of the 15 seats up for grabs, showed that most voters were displeased with its repeated attempts to profit from the failures of the government without putting forward credible alternatives.
The NPAD should now convince the public of its will to change by cooperating with passing a raft of bills submitted to the National Assembly, especially 19 measures designed to reinvigorate the slowing economy.
Park should lead her party to make this shift to shed its image as preoccupied with partisan strife and negligent on matters related to people’s livelihoods. Sincere work on sensible legislation would be the surest way to capture voters’ hearts.
The ruling Saenuri Party also needs to accept some of the opposition’s demands to ensure the parliament will get down to work.