(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on April 12)

Toward communication and cooperation The April 10 parliamentary elections ended with the landslide victory of the majority Democratic Party (DP) over the governing People Power Party (PPP). The DP won 175 seats in the 300-member National Assembly, while the PPP took 108. Given apparent advantages from DP leader Lee Jae-myung's judicial risks and his party's lopsided nominations of candidates solely based on their connections with him, the PPP and the Yoon Suk Yeol administration must deeply reflect on what the disastrous results of the election mean. First of all, President Yoon and the PPP must humbly accept the results of the election, as they represent voters' harsh judgment of the party and the government. In the beginning, there was hope that voters would support the conservative government. But the PPP's voting base started to weaken fast after the suspicious departure of former Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup to Canberra as ambassador to Australia despite an ongoing investigation on his alleged pressu re on the military's investigation into the suspicious death of a Marine last year and after the intimidating remarks from senior presidential secretary Hwang Sang-moo toward journalists in a meeting. After the Itaewon tragedy and the death of a Marine, no one in the government took responsibility. Due to the deepening public discontent about the government's inability to address soaring prices and a conflict between the government and doctors over its plan to increase medical schools' enrollment quota, voters delivered their verdict on Wednesday. Even after the PPP's crushing defeat in a Seoul by-election last October, the party and government just wasted time attacking the DP without making any effort to reform itself. The 24 rounds of presidential debates with the public to improve their livelihoods stopped far short of assuaging their anger. The election results demand a colossal change from the government. Instead of the vertical relationship between the PPP and the government and its combative relation s with the DP, the president must have close communications with the opposition for effective governance. When the 22nd National Assembly convenes, the government cannot do anything without cooperation from the majority opposition. President Yoon must listen to its views and reflect them in drawing up government policies. The PPP also must embark on innovating itself. If it continues to look up to the presidential office and act as a rubberstamp, it cannot have any hope in the 2026 local elections or the 2027 presidential election. The country faces multiple headwinds, from demographic issues to economic troubles. The external front is equally perilous due to the protracted wars in Ukraine and the Middle East, not to mention escalating threats from North Korea and the ever-worsening Sino-U.S. conflict. Yoon still has three years left in office. If he uses the poor midterm scorecard to re-examine his governance and try to solve various challenges through communications with the governing and opposition part ies, he can have the time to make amends and reconnect with the people. Many challenges await the DP, too. The majority party must not gloat over the overwhelming win in the recent election, as it reflects public disgruntlement over the governance - not approval for the liberal party. In other words, the DP must play its due role as a supermajority with greater responsibility. It must prove its ability to run the government if it really wants to take power in the next presidential election. The DP will face harsh judgment from people if it repeats the past abuse of its majority power to railroad a number of ill-intended bills and impeach any government officials it doesn't like. The DP commanded a whopping 180 seats in the last parliamentary election but did little to help improve people's lives or promote national interests over the past four years. As a victor, DP head Lee Jae-myung must cooperate with the government beyond party lines - instead of steadfastly blocking it from doing its job, as in the pa st. The DP behaved as if it were an onlooker even during the medical crisis from trainee doctors' walkouts in protest of the enrollment quota hike. We hope the party plays the role of mediator between the government and doctor groups to end the unprecedented medical vacuum as quickly as possible. If so, the DP can prove its ability to take power in the next presidential election. The majority party should feel a strong sense of responsibility to present alternatives to the government's proposals for a national pension reform. The DP only helped worsen the fiscal health of the Moon Jae-in administration after avoiding tackling the risky issue even though it was a supermajority at the time. The party must engage itself in resolving our pitifully low birthrate, as well as the long-delayed labor and education reforms. Lastly, former Justice Minister Cho Kuk and his fledgling Rebuilding Korea Party, which came out as a surprising winner in Wednesday's election, must not waste their political debut for a vengeful quest. The party has pledged to push for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the alleged corruption of the outgoing PPP leader as revenge for his investigations of Cho and other figures from the Moon administration while Han was justice minister. We hope the splinter party will serve a role required of a member of the legislature. Source: Yonhap News Agency

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