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Justification for merger is needed

Apr 27,2017
The idea of forming a coalition among centrist and conservative candidates to jointly stop the leading liberal contender from making a dash toward the finish line has began to take form. Movements for merging presidential candidacy are being detected at three parties — the People’s Party whose contender has the biggest shot at beating Moon but distinctly lost steam after last weekend’s TV debate and the two conservative parties that broke apart from the ruling party.

The smallest Bareun Party, comprised of members that bolted out of the ruling Saenuri Party following the disgraceful scandal of former President Park Geun-hye, officially proposed a three-way alliance among its nominee Yoo Seong-min with Hong Joon-pyo of the bigger conservative Liberal Korea Party (LKP) and Ahn Cheol-soo of the People’s Party upon a surge in Moon’s rating after the second TV debate.

Conservative voters do not trust Moon’s policy on North Korea and his views on security affairs. But they are unsure of whom to pick among other candidates. More have become undecided as the polling day nears, which suggests a possible dramatic change in the last-minute contest. No matter who wins, no party can command a majority in the legislature and therefore would have to form an alliance in order to push ahead with policy agendas. This is why the parties are opting for an alliance regardless of the protests from their nominees.

The challenge is to convince the public. The fall of a conservative force lies not only with the spread of candidates, but a lack of vision. The LKP has failed to repent and recreate after the impeachment. The Bareun Party was hastily formed in order to recruit former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. The conservative forces are merely seeking coalition to prevent a certain candidate and party from winning.

Artificial mergers must not take place. A merger must have a clear reason and common grounds. Most of all, the coalition must be able to persuade the public that it could do better in governing with united capabilities. It won’t appeal to the public if the merger is sought purely to share a part of the ruling power. The choice also should be ultimately left to the candidate who has been elected through primaries. It is both uncivil and undemocratic to demand a candidate to surrender their hard-won spot on the ticket because of poor polls.

JoongAng Ilbo, April 26, Page 33