[KS] South Korea's Rollback of Democratic Rights
yamanin at hotmail.com
Tue May 12 20:50:59 EDT 2009
This is an important point, that I think speaks to a systemic problem in Korean politics. South Korea has achieved a high degree of electoral democracy, as demonstrated by the fact that the Blue House has changed control in two of the last three elections. However, it is still lacking somewhat in checks and balances, both between the different branches of government and between government and society (writ large). Add to this the fact that the president serves only a single, five-year term, and there is very little accountability or incentive to compromise between elections. Basically, the president implements his agenda and everyone else starts preparing to run in the next election. Citizens, including those who may have voted for the president based on part of his agenda while opposing other parts, have very little recourse other than to take the streets. Protests, while a legitimate form of political expression, are an imperfect barometer of public opinion, and both the Philippines and Thailand have amptly demonstrated the dangers of allowing street protesters to exercise a veto over election results. To really strengthen democracy in South Korea, what's needed are ways to increase accountability and incentive compromise *between* elections, so politics becomes less of a zero-sum game.
> Broadening a little, the writer puts down the LMB government as if it somehow gained power despite the wishes of most people. In fact, he was elected in an embarrassingly wide landslide in December 2007 in reaction against the policies, mostly to do with the economy, of the previous government. Now LMB is running into his own "popularity" problems, again a lot to do with the economy. The forces ranged against him generally supported his opponent in 2007 and have never accepted the fact that their candidate lost soundly. (He just got elected to the Assembly, incidentally, running as an independent after his former party refused to put him on the slate.)
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