(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on March 14)
No, prime minister
The presidential election calendar has been pulled up by seven months after former President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment was upheld by the Constitutional Court. Under the law requiring a by-election within 60 days, she has been removed from office and the country must elect a new president by May 9. Kim Yong-deok, commissioner of the National Election Commission, pledged an orderly and fair election regardless of the short campaign period. He advised officials to be extra careful and to remain neutral throughout the election period.
Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, who is acting president, must clarify his plans. Hwang has been in charge of sustaining the status quo of the government after the president’s powers were suspended following her impeachment. But now he must administer an election.
It feels like the referee has not decided whether he wants to play in the game or not. We cannot expect fair oversight from such a referee.
Hwang’s every word and action can influence the election. As the acting president, he must fix the election day this week, but even such legal duties could be suspected of having some king of ulterior motive. Candidates are already under pre-campaign election regulations.
He could be accused of violating the election law if he makes decisions related to the election while hiding his intention to run. The campaign landscape would rock if Hwang resigns one month prior to the May 9 election to announce his candidacy.
Hwang tops popular approving polls among conservative candidates. The supporters of Park have turned to Hwang and are doing their best to persuade him to run in the race. If the acting president resigns to run in the election, the country would be without a state leader. If Hwang intends this, he should immediately say so. He must make it clear whether he is running or not to remove the uncertainty factor. He must clarify his position at least before the date of the election day is announced.