The Korea Herald


[Editorial] Who’s populist?

By 최남현

Published : March 17, 2011 - 17:50

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When the main opposition Democratic Party proposed to rein in rising rent prices by capping their increases in January, the ruling Grand National Party accused its adversary of pushing for an irrational populist idea. In an about-face, the ruling party is now moving to adopt the proposal as its policy. Now what will the GNP say about itself?

On Wednesday, the ruling party’s task force, working on a housing policy for the underprivileged, said it has decided to put a limit to an increase in rent payments. Its idea is for the government to limit rent increases in residential areas where rent is rising fast.

Until recently, the ruling party and the administration have voiced strong opposition to the idea on the grounds that it could disrupt the market and fuel rent payment increases, instead of reining them in. Their prognosis is shared by many.

Among others, property experts are warning that rent payments could soar shortly before the proposed legislation goes into effect and that tenants could be forced into dual-contract arrangements when the legislation is effective. They are right to say that rent payments are set to rise when homes for rent are in short supply, as they are now.

Even more serious, capping rent payments may infringe on the right to property. Some legal experts warn that it could be ruled unconstitutional.

The ruling party is undoubtedly well aware of all these problems. But it says it is favorably considering adopting it as an official policy. It does not say why. But it does not take genius to guess that it is doing so to ingratiate the electorate ahead of the next parliamentary and presidential elections, both set for 2012. Now it will have to keep itself from blaming the opposition for being populist again.