[KS] South Korea's Rollback of Democratic Rights
Roald.Maliangkay at anu.edu.au
Wed May 13 00:54:57 EDT 2009
I agree with you that there are some rather turgid cultural factors
that have placed a caveat on a narrow definition of democracy in
South Korea, but I would hesitate to call the recent events in
Thailand proof of the dangers of allowing street protesters to
exercise a veto over an election result. The situation in Thailand is
much more complex than that.
On 13 May 2009, at 10:50, Timothy Savage wrote:
> 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 Ph ilippines 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.
> Tim Savage
> > 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.)
> Invite your mail contacts to join your friends list with Windows
> Live Spaces. It's easy! Try it!
Dr. Roald H. Maliangkay
Head, Korea Centre
Convenor of Graduate Programs, Faculty of Asian Studies
China and Korea Centre, Baldessin Precinct Building #110, Room E3.07
The Australian National University
Acton, Canberra ACT 0200,
Tel: + 61 2 6125 3191
Fax: +61 2 6125 0745
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