DUP should stand on its own feet
The main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP) appears nervous as public attention is shifting toward Ahn Cheol-soo, the software entrepreneur-turned-professor, in the wake of Park Geun-hye being elected the presidential candidate of the ruling Saenuri Party.
The DUP launched a vitriolic attack on Park, the daughter of the late dictatorial President Park Chung-hee, skipping its ceremonial congratulatory remarks. It didn’t even dispatch a congratulatory delegation to the governing party’s national convention ― also a rite of passage between political parties.
The opposition party also lashed out at Park for making a surprise visit to the grave of the late liberal President Roh Moo-hyun, saying it was a ``political show’’ that lacked sincerity. Conversely, the conservative candidate’s tributes to her political opponents drew positive reactions in general as moves for national unity.
It’s understandable that the liberal party is impatient for its failure to draw people’s attention while its primary race for the Dec. 19 presidential election is ongoing. Instead, Ahn, dean of the Graduate School of Convergence Science and Technology at Seoul National University, is stealing the spotlight as the standard bearer of the opposition camp. In this process, the largest opposition party has fallen into lethargy and seems to have no leeway to observe the slightest political etiquette.
As things stand, the party’s four presidential hopefuls ― Moon Jae-in, Sohn Hak-kyu, Kim Doo-kwan and Chung Sye-kyun ― lag far behind Ahn in people’s support and are no match for the governing party candidate. Political watchers see the DUP’s ongoing primary as a preliminary to choose a candidate for the decider against Ahn, not for the presidential poll in December.
The worst nightmare is that the party is forced into a position not to field its own candidate to the presidential election again following its failures to do so in the elections for Gyeonggi Province governor and Seoul City mayor. Given the current state of the political landscape, none of the party’s four candidates is expected to beat Ahn in a final primary to choose a single candidate. In that case, the very survival of the party would be in doubt.
The DUP must agree on a single candidate under any circumstances because it would be all but impossible to retake power if the presidential election is conducted as a three-way battle among the ruling party candidate, its nominee and Ahn, an independent.
The opposition party’s excessive sensitivity to Ahn’s every move is met with derision and it’s unreasonable that the party’s leadership frequently mentions him and the rationale for the single candidate.
In a nutshell, the DUP should stand on its own feet, not swayed by short-term approval ratings for its candidates. At the same time, it must put off the issue of unifying the presidential candidate until after its primary is over.
The opposition party lost the April 11 parliamentary elections due partly to its excessive negative campaigns. Now it’s time for the DUP to emerge from old politics and make every effort to win public confidence.