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    Civil Action for the General Election - Politician Blacklist

    PSPD -

    Civil Action for General Elections 2000

    The Civil Action for the 2000 General Election in Korea

    Civic Coalition in Transition to Democracy: The 2000 General Elections in South Korea

    The Dilemmas of Korea’s New Democracy in an Age of Neoliberal Globalisation

    The General Election Seen From Abroad

    Using documentation to draw up a ‘blacklist’ of unacceptable political candidates and moving the public to vote against them

    People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD) worked with a coalition of civic organizations to survey the South Korea population in order to identify criteria meant to eliminate politicians and make them ineligible for election. Corruption in Korea was so serious that it was the foremost obstacle hindering the progress of Korean society. Korean political parties have remained unchanged and politicians do not represent the people’s interests. Instead, they exclusively pursue their own interests: power monopolized by politicians only. Although the people have been under severe economic strain since the national financial crisis in 1997, political corruption has not abated. These corrupt political parties and politicians have had no respect for voters. Voters needed to show their power to politicians by making use of their voters’ rights, even if legal hurdles were put in front of voters.

    In order to improve the corrupt political situation, 1,053 civil organizations established a coalition body called ‘Civil Action for the General Election 2000 (CAGE). By PSPD's initiative, the campaign sought the defeat of unqualified politicians in the general election. Common guidelines to define unacceptable candidates were defined through preliminary survey and discussion. CAGE set up 7 criteria including corrupt activities and anti-human rights activities. Then CAGE listed the names of potential candidates and requested political parties to refuse their nomination. Subsequently, CAGE entered upon a nationwide public campaign to denounce the blacklisted candidates and achieved 90% success in defeating corrupt politicians in the Seoul metropolitan area and 68% nationwide.

    Overall, CAGE targeted 86 corrupt and ineligible candidates. Of these, 59 lost in the election. This was because voters agreed blacklisted candidates were not appropriate representatives of the people. After the campaign, citizens were empowered and motivated by the fact that they were able to judge, make a right choice, and change the course of politics. Furthermore, this campaign contributed to the revision of the election laws. At the beginning of the campaign, the CAGE campaign itself was illegal. Nevertheless, CAGE representatives were prepared to go to prison in defense of voters’ rights to appropriate representation.

    As a result, election laws were partially reformed just before the 2000 general election. The revised law allows the public expression of the wish to see particular candidates defeated. The revision, however, did not give much room for street campaigning. Street campaigns are still prohibited but CAGE simultaneously performed a street campaign to disobey election laws that restricted voters’ rights. Some CAGE representatives were actually punished for violation of the election law.

    The criteria established by the survey for blacklisting, taken from citizens’ opinions and polls were:
    • corrupt activity,
    • violation of the election law,
    • anti-human rights activity and destruction of democracy and constitutional order,
    • insincerity in law-making and activity against the assembly and electorate,
    • position on reforming bills and policies,
    • suspect behaviors reflecting on the basic qualification for politicians; and
    • failure of civil duties such as military service and paying tax.

    The most important and delicate issue was the selection of the unqualified candidates politicians based on the above criteria since the opposition and resistance from targeted politicians was very violent. Anticipating this, CAGE analyzed detailed resources (e.g. newspapers relevant to politicians in the period of the past ten years, reports by National Assembly and juridical reports, etc), gathered information received from citizens, and reports by politicians. The campaign held on-line hearings, conducted experts’ examination, and a 100 Voters Committee’s discussion. In particular, the 100 Voters Committee was organized to represent ordinary citizens’ opinion, yet not activists. This was a crucial step in confirming the authenticity of the blacklist.

    After the announcement of the blacklist, CAGE openly opposed those candidates during the candidate draft and election, and communicated with the voters so that those on the blacklist either lost their opportunity to run in the election or lost in the election. Under the slogan ‘LET’S CHANGE! LET’S CHANGE!’ with a cheerful campaign song, CAGE showed the ‘Red Card’ as the symbol of the ‘alert’ against blacklisted candidates. This new exciting way of campaigning attracted many voters’ strong support.

    The campaign inspired voters to realize their power and desire for political change. Voters’ aggressive participation made corrupt politicians hesitate and be aware of voters’ power. This resulted in politicians’ willingness for self-innovation and reforming of political laws related to politics. The CAGE campaign generated social consensus around the belief that people could actually influence political life and its practices.

    CAGE performed the defeat campaign once more in 2004. For the first time in Korean society, with the experiences, know-how, and accumulated material, PSPD launched a program to watch members of National Assembly regularly—on its web site as well as during the election period.

    Most significantly, the CAGE campaign generated social consensus around the belief that people could actually influence political life and its practices. This tactic illustrates the power of voters to emerge as a new important actor in the political arena.

  2. #2
    S. Korea group unveils blacklist of April 13 poll candidates.

    SEOUL, April 3 Kyodo

    A nationwide coalition of civic groups in South Korea unveiled Monday a blacklist of 86 candidates it considers unworthy of standing for public office in the April 13 National Assembly elections due to alleged corruption and links with past authoritarian governments.

    In a press conference, leaders of the Civil Action for 2000 General Election in Korea (CAGE), a coalition of more than 450 civic groups, said they will ''stage an all-out effort'' to foil the election bids of 22 major candidates among the 86.

    CAGE also said in a statement it will use means such as making telephone calls and sending e-mails to voters, ''even if some of these means violate the current election laws,'' to obstruct the listed candidates' election bids.

    The announcement of the blacklist ahead of the April 13 general elections is expected to seriously affect the voting behavior of the still undecided voters, estimated to be about 40% of the 33.5 million eligible voters.

    Of the 86 candidates named in the blacklist, 28 are from the largest opposition Grand National Party (GNP), 18 from the splinter opposition United Liberal Democrats (ULD), 16 from the ruling Millennium Democratic Party (MDP), and the rest from minor parties and independent candidates.

    In January, CAGE made an unprecedented move of naming 67 politicians whom it said are unfit to stand for parliamentary elections.

    Despite CAGE's January announcement of the list, many ''unfit, incompetent and corrupt'' politicians have been nominated by various political parties to run for elections.

    CAGE's Monday announcement prompted swift and angry reactions, especially from opposition parties. Political parties said blacklisted candidates have already explained fully their alleged wrongdoing.

    A spokesman from the ruling MDP said, however, CAGE's action deserves a positive assessment and careful heeding.

    The MDP spokesman said CAGE's efforts to beat the blacklisted candidates should not go beyond the confines of relevant election laws.

    A total of 1,042 candidates are running for 227 seats to be filled by direct voting in the 273-seat unicameral legislature. The remaining 46 members will be selected by proportional representation.

    The number of parliamentary seats were cut by 26 under the revised election laws.

    Many political analysts predict that no party is expected to secure a majority in the elections, which is widely seen as a midterm referendum for President Kim Dae Jung's economic reforms and ''sunshine policy'' toward North Korea.

    Currently, the GNP has 122 seats, followed by the ruling MDP with 99 and the ULD with 50. The remaining 28 seats either belong to the newly created Democratic People's Party or independents under the 299-member National Assembly.



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