Online Blue House petition calls for dissolution of LKP

Posted on : 2019-05-01 18:10 KST Modified on : 2019-05-01 18:10 KST
Racks up record number of signatures
An online petition on the Blue House website calling for the dissolution of the Liberty Korea Party.
An online petition on the Blue House website calling for the dissolution of the Liberty Korea Party.

A petition on the Blue House’s website calling for the dissolution of the Liberty Korea Party (LKP) has racked up the highest number of signatures since the petition system was set up. Experts believe that this reflects the public’s rage at the party for going to extremes in its opposition to the designation of an electoral reform bill for “fast track” early voting, reviving the National Assembly’s old reputation as being something of a zoo.

As of 7 am on May 1, 1,433,816 people had signed the petition on the Blue House’s website. That broke the previous record of 1,192,049 signatures on a petition from October 2018 that demanded harsh punishment for the person suspected of committing murder in an internet cafe in Seoul’s Gangseo District, even if he pleaded insanity.

“The Liberty Korea Party holds protests outside of the National Assembly at every opportunity to hobble the government’s attempts to pass legislation; it has endangered the public by cutting funding for fighting fires; and it has thrown up all kinds of obstacles to keep the government from enacting policies on behalf of the people,” said the petition, which was posted on Apr. 22, the day that the ruling party and three opposition parties agreed to fast-track the reform legislation. The number of signatures began to increase on Apr. 25-26, after LKP lawmakers turned the National Assembly into a zoo by staying up all night to physically prevent the four other parties from fast-tracking the bills.

By 3 pm on Apr. 27, when the LKP made a show of force by organizing a protest outside the National Assembly, the number had reached about 125,000. The harder the party pushed, the higher the search frequency for “Liberty Korea Party petition” and “Liberty Korea Party dissolution petition” climbed on portals. By the morning of Apr. 29, the number of signatures had reached 300,000, before soaring to well above 1 million on the morning of Apr. 30. There were so many of people accessing the Blue House website—tens of thousands an hour—that the page sometimes went down under the traffic.

Backlash to LKP’s outlandish antics

One analysis is that the LKP is facing a backlash after going too far in its opposition to the Moon administration, encouraged by the government’s drooping approval rating.

“The people who held candles in the 2016 protests were supporters of the Moon administration who had been discouraged by the economy, jobs, and inter-Korean relations. But seeing what’s happening in the National Assembly has made them afraid that the country could backslide if they leave things as they are. They’ve also been enraged to see the LKP ranting about ‘overthrowing the dictatorship,’” said Jeon Sang-jin, a sociology professor at Sogang University.

“I think that the message of the petition is focused not on dissolving the party but on sending a stern warning to the Liberty Korea Party about interfering with the degree of democratic decision-making that the public currently enjoys,” Jeon added.

People have chosen Blue House petition board as forum for dissatisfaction

Another analysis is that the Blue House’s petition board has been chosen as the forum for people to voice their dissatisfaction about politics.

“Many people felt a desire to punish the Liberty Korea Party for turning the National Assembly, which ought to be a temple to the public will, into a scene of violence over the fast track issue. But since the election is a year away and there’s no system in place for recalling lawmakers, those people have chosen instead to visit the petition site and express their desires there,” said Park Sang-gyeong, a visiting professor at the Graduate School of Policy Science at Inha University.

“Now that Moon is in his third year in office, the public has figured out that he won’t be able to accomplish anything if the Liberty Korea Party keeps acting like this regardless of the policy. This reflects the people’s anger at the political vacuum brought on by the party’s entitlement and concern for vested interests,” Park said.

“The 1987 system has strengthened the assumption that the president directly represents the people while parliamentary politics represents vested interests. In addition to that, the Liberty Korea Party has aggravated distrust of parliamentary politics through its disgraceful behavior in the past, which includes saying one thing and doing another,” said Lee Taek-gwang, a professor of global communication at Kyung Hee University.

“Since parliamentary politics is inevitably limited, these actions should be regarded as a demand for more politics,” Lee explained.

“The National Assembly is supposed to be the place that finds solutions to conflict through compromise and the creation of bodies and institutions. As the National Assembly stops functioning as a mechanism for mediating conflict, ordinary people have begun turning to the petition system. While this shouldn’t be assessed entirely through the lens of age, people in their 20s and 30s represent 38.5% of voters, but there are no lawmakers in their 20s and only two in their 30s. I think the time has come for a new generation to assert itself in politics,” said Kim Jun-seok, a professor of politics and foreign policy at Dongguk University.

Other experts caution against reading too much into this. “When the Blue House first set up the petition system, it envisioned it as a way to receive public suggestions about how to improve government policies and administrative systems. While the political meaning of asking for a party’s dissolution is understandable, there are concerns that this could undermine the democratic order and values,” said Lee Byeong-hun, a professor of sociology at Chung-Ang University.

By Kwon Ji-dam, Jang Na-rye, Jung Yu-gyung, Kim Min-je, and Oh Yeon-seo, staff reporters

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