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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on May 16)

2018/05/16 07:16

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Election issues missing

Parties fail to present necessary policies

The June 13 local elections for choosing mayors, governors, chiefs of local councils and education superintendants who will serve for the next four years are less than a month away.

The elections are getting scant attention from the public as they have been overshadowed by summits aiming for North Korea's denuclearization. The leaders of the two Koreas held a third inter-Korean summit, April 27, while a U.S.-North Korea summit will take place June 12, just one day before the elections. President Moon Jae-in will also hold a summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, May 22. Korean voters will be highly focused on the results of the upcoming Singapore meeting between Trump and North Korean Kim Jong-un rather than the local elections.

Despite the low interest among the public, the rival parties have a responsibility toward voters to present policies to promote the regional economy, create more jobs and improve the quality of life. But so far, they have avoided the responsibility and have instead been preoccupied with attacking each other on issues that have little to do with improving the people's livelihoods.

Leaders of the ruling and opposition parties have been trading barbs over the recent National Assembly deadlock caused by the online opinion-rigging case involving a blogger who is allegedly linked to ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) former lawmaker Kim Kyoung-soo, a close aide of President Moon. Kim is running for governor of South Gyeongsang Province despite the scandal.

DPK Chairwoman Rep. Choo Mi-ae criticized Rep. Kim Sung-tae, the floor leader of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP), for his hunger strike calling for a special counsel investigation into the case. The ruling party leader slammed Kim's party for hampering the peoples' livelihoods by not doing anything. Kim also attacked her with crass words and blamed her for the National Assembly confrontation.

LKP leader Hong Joon-pyo has also lashed out at the ruling party for "engulfing the local elections with an inter-Korean peace show." About the U.S.-North Korea summit taking place a day before the elections, Hong said the Moon administration and North Korea must have begged the U.S. for it to be arranged as such. Such an irrational exchange of words will only trigger more Assembly tension and alienate voters.

It's time for the parties to focus on issues that matter to voters. The parties should keep in mind that local elections should be a competition of ideas and policies for more jobs, more welfare and more stability and happiness.

(END)

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