On April 15, there was the 21st parliamentary election in South Korea. As a result of the election, the "Democratic Party" and the "Platform party" won 163 seats and 17 seats, respectively, while the "Future United Party" and the "Future Korea Party" won 84 seats, 19 seats, and there were 6 seats for the "Justice Party," 3 seats for the "Opened Democratic Party", 3 seats for the "People's Party" and 5 seats for members of National Assembly without a party. Of the total 300 seats in the National Assembly, the Democratic Party and the Future United Party won the largest number of seats. But don't you think their names are too similar? The Future United Party and the Future Korea Party have different names, but the political goals they have are same. Also, where is the "Saenuri Party," which was the ruling party in the 18th presidential election? Surprisingly, it did not disappear, but split up and merged into one party. This change is not the unusual happening, but a political strategy that has been made numerous times since the beginning of the Republic of Korea. From now on, let's talk about Korea's political history related with the change in the names of those political parties.
Why did You Change Your Party’s Name?
The leader of Democratic Parties : The Democratic Party
The history of the "Democratic Party," which secured the largest number of seats in the 21st parliamentary elections has been built for a long time. The party that started the "Democratic Party" is "Democratic National Party," which was formed in 1955 when opposition members gathered to oppose former President Rhee Syng-man's illegal constitutional amendment. It was originally formed by fighter for Korea's independence Shin Ik-hee, who belonged to the same party with Rhee Syng-man. It won the ruling party's position through the April 19 revolution, but reborn as an opposition "Shinhan Democratic Party" as conflicts arise between young and old members. And, Kim Dae-jung, former president made a "United Democratic Party" in 1987. The "United Democratic Party" greatly contributed to the democratization of Korea, which was bothered by military dictatorships at the time, and incapacitated the power of President Jeon Doo-hwan, who was maintaining military dictatorship through indirect election system. Also "United Democratic Party" helped ensure the passage of the June 29 declaration, which included a constitutional amendment to the direct election system on June 29, 1987. Of course, the prediction that "United Democratic Party" as the governing party appeared after Jeon Doo-hwan's descent. However, the co-representative of the party, Kim Young-sam and Kim Dae-jung's approval rating had broken the peace of this party. Sadly, this division had failed. As a result, Kim Dae-jung came out and the first party he made by himself was "Peace Democratic Party". Both the "Peace Democratic Party" and the former "United Democratic Party" failed to win the presidential election, so they could not avoid responsibility for internal division, and the "Peace Democratic Party" renamed itself the "New Democratic United Party" to continue its political activities. Another defeat in the 1992 presidential election forced "Peace Democratic Party" to continue to stand as the opposition party. Since then, the "New Democratic United Party" has established the "New Political People's Congress" with "Democratic Party". In "New Political People's Congress", Kim Dae-jung was elected as president in the 1997 presidential election and this party drew the first change of power hierarchy between parties. Kim Dae-jung in 1998, continued his regime under the goal of 'The Government of People'. And the party's name was replaced by the "Millennium Democratic Party" soon. After Kim's regime, Noh Moo-hyun was elected as president, but Noh Moo-hyun had conflicts with the existing politicians who support Kim Dae-jung's later political party "Millennium Democratic Party". So, the new party "Uri Party" was built by him. It united with the "Democratic Party", "United Democratic Party" and reorganized it into the "Democratic United Party" in 2011. "New Politics Democratic Union" by merging "United New Democratic Party" and "Democratic United Party" was again a new party of the 2013, which presidential candidate Ahn Cheol-soo participated in. The "Bareunmirae Party," which is derived from the "Democratic Party" were born ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
Conservative Party Leader: Future United Party
The name of the conservative party has changed a lot. Let's look at the history of changing the names of conservative party based on the "Future United Party," which can be called as the leader of conservative parties in Korea. The "Future United Party" was originated from the "Democratic Justice Party" which was founded by former President Jeon Doo-hwan in January 1981. The “Democratic Justice Party” was made after President Jeon Doo-hwan's coup to be the president. "Democratic Justice Party" greatly lost their power since a June 1987 demonstration supported by Kim Young-sam and Kim Dae-jung, who clashed at the time. As Union between them has not made, Noh Tae-woo won of Democratic Justice Party the president election. To overcome people's rage against them, the Democratic Justice Party found a new way. Therefore, the three parties, led by former President Kim Young-sam, who was then a member of the "Unification Democratic Party," and Kim Jong-pil, a member of the "New Democratic Republican Party," were united as the "Democratic Liberal Party" in February 1990 and open a new regime. Later, with Kim Young-sam was elected as president, the "Democratic Liberal Party" retained its position as the ruling party. The “Democratic Liberal Party”, which changed its name from the "Democratic Liberal Party" to the "New Korea Party", also won the parliamentary election and later renamed it "Grand Nation Party" in 1997. At this point, IMF crisis left the party's image become unfavorable. Spearheaded by Park Geun-hye, former president, once again changed its name to the "Saenuri Party", but as everyone knows a crushing defeat in parliamentary election in 2017 caused in the appearance of the "Bareun Party". In the course of changing the "Saenuri Party" to the "Liberty Korea Party", and the "Liberty Korea Party" to the "Future United Party" and "the Future Korea Party", the conservative party's power has been greatly reduced.
Reasons Why Parties Change Their Names
Impression improvement is the biggest reason why political parties change their names. When the impression of a party that has become too bad, the leaders of parties change its name and creates a new name to act as if it were a new party. This part can be criticized by many people because only the name was changed, but the parts that the people pointed out did not change. But if you're not really interested in politics, you can't keep track of the name that changes from time to time. As a result, there is a limitation to find out their new names, which means voting without awareness might happen. It is a new attempt to improve the impression of a political party by changing the name of the party and changing the color that represents the party. But this obviously has its limits. If the party continues to change its name even before it fully builds up its recognition, it could lead to a further decline in the party. In addition, the public will be disappointed by the appearance of changes in the outside and the inside, and there is a possibility that skepticism about politics will grow.
Division of Political Forces
This situation had happened a lot in the "Democratic Party". It has occurred when there has been no integration among the members who work as candidates of election. Especially when the presidential election is planned, the party selects those who will be candidates through internal conferences, and if their approval ratings are the same or similar, there will be fights among those who support each candidate. Even at the time when Noh Tae-woo was elected as president, the disappointment of the public with the military dictatorship government led to the emergence of a single opposition candidate and a high approval rating, but the two candidates competed, which led to the ironic outcome of the conservative party's victory. If the forces represented by each candidate become popular, the candidate must appear politically correct, which is more likely to lead to political pressure on the candidate. Because the image of one candidate is directly related with the image of that party, individual candidates could feel restricted from free political activities, and issues unrelated to the candidate are ignored. So, there were many cases in which a party that came apart because of another power split or collapse of that candidate's popularity. It is the case when most of the nation's minor parties have been suffered.
Lots of efforts for changing the party's name have appeared since the first parliamentary elections. However, the people are not stupid that they forget the past of decomposed parties. They are tired of party's name changes that those parties already have tried to improve their images. Hiding their past doesn't mean that they can be the great party. Admitting mistakes and showing apologies to people is much more efficient and considered as most-liked action than changing the party's name again. The outcome of current parliamentary election didn't show the influence on Korean politics yet. However, everyone knows that repeating this mistake will soon lead to the collapse of Korean Politics.< 저작권자 © 중앙헤럴드 무단전재 및 재배포금지 >