How to go against demands for reinvention

2024. 3. 3. 20:10
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The PPP must not brush off people’s growing demand for reinvention of the party.

Rep. Kim Young-joo — the deputy speaker of the National Assembly and a member of the majority Democratic Party (DP) — declared that she would change her party affiliation to the governing People Power Party (PPP). Kim, a four-term lawmaker, said, “I fully empathize with PPP interim leader Han Dong-hoon’s call to change politics in Korea,” adding she would do her best to help the PPP win the April 10 parliamentary elections. The legislator is expected to run in her current constituency in northern Seoul. The reason for her sudden about-turn is clear: She has just been cut off from her candidacy after receiving a “bottom 20 percent score for her performance as a lawmaker” from the DP.

Even given the DP’s notoriously opaque nomination standards, her migration to the PPP in just two weeks looks weird. Despite the abnormality, it looks strange for Kim to run in the same district after changing her party membership. But at the same time, the PPP leadership’s attempt to bring in the seasoned politician to run in the same constituency this time as a PPP lawmaker is not convincing, either.

In fact, it is difficult to see any sign of change in the PPP when considering the nominations of its candidates in the election. The head of its innovation committee underscored the importance of change for the conservative party. He pleaded party leaders, lawmakers close to President Yoon Suk Yeol, and senior lawmakers representing South and North Gyeongsang to reinvent themselves. And yet, heavyweights of the party — such as Rep. Chung Jin-suk and Rep. Kwon Seong-dong — have all been nominated as single candidates even without holding a primary.

What really happened to the party’s pledge to reshape itself? Only 16 percent of its current lawmakers have been replaced with new faces. By now, Rep. Chang Je-won may be regretting his earlier decision to not seek his fourth term to help his party inject new blood.

All the alarming developments in the PPP raise suspicion over the party’s persistent promise to rejuvenate itself. Even Kim Keun-shik, the party’s candidate for a seat representing a district in southern Seoul, expressed regrets about the nominations of lawmakers who claimed to be Yoon loyalists and others who had pressured a former floor leader to not run in the race for the party leadership last year.

There cannot be one answer to nominating candidates in the legislative elections. But voters will surely judge them through their ballots. Regrettably, interim PPP leader Han threw cold water on supporters’ expectations for a rebirth of the party through refreshing nominations. The PPP must not brush off people’s growing demand for reinvention of the party.

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