Moon rises in South Korea

South Korean President Moon Jae-in-French President elect Emmanuel Macron
South Korean President Moon Jae-in-French President elect Emmanuel Macron

Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party won the Presidential election in South Korea Tuesday May 9th. He obtained 41.1 percent of the votes cast as against 24 for Hon Joon - Pyo of former impeached President Park Geun – Hye’s Liberty Korea Party and 21.4 for Centrist Ann Cheol Soo.

President Moon is expected to effect changes in many areas of domestic and foreign policy as he campaigned for a change in key policies hitherto followed by the conservatives for a decade. The election coincided with the highest tension in the Korean peninsula in recent times with North Korea testing new missiles and the United States and South Korea holding joint military exercises. Victory of Moon who campaigned for dialogue with North Korea instead of confrontation and a review of the installed THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) anti-missile system indicates that South Koreans have voted for peace and national reconciliation between the two Koreas.

Moon is likely to pursue a conciliatory approach to relations with the North. He has already expresses his desire to re-open the Kaesong industrial complex in North Korea that is a joint venture between the two countries.

Installation of the THAAD system had antagonized China who legitimately considers it a national security threat and an unwarranted intrusion of the United States in its neighbourhood. Relations with China would improve under President Moon. At present the relations between the two countries are estranged. Korea is also economically affected by the limits China has placed on its citizen’s touring South Korea in retaliation to the installation of the THAAD system.

South Korea is also expected to distance itself somewhat from the United States since Moon and his party has been consistently opposed to the presence of US forces in South Korea. Perhaps it could follow Philippines in this regard.

In general the new President is likely to pursue a dynamic foreign policy which would focus on good relations with all its neighbours while maintaining the special relation with the United States at a low level. Despite the election campaign rhetoric it would not be pragmatic to expect South Korea to break off radically with Washington.

President Moon gave an indication of his foreign policy in his inauguration address in the following words: “If I need I will fly to Washington immediately.—I will also go to Beijing and Tokyo and even Pyongyang”.

On the domestic front he will have to find a solution to soaring unemployment, especially of youth. He has also pledged to control the huge family businesses called chaebols that dominate the economy – a task many earlier Presidents either failed to undertake or did not wish to undertake.

Change of guard in Paris

As expected Emmanuel Macron won comfortably in the Second round of the Presidential election, winning 66.1 percent of the vote. At 39, he is the youngest President to assume office in France. His rival Marie Le Pen could only poll 33.9 percent of the vote.

Geographically Macron won in all electoral departments except two in the periphery. In general, voters with low education and less economic activity have voted for Le Pen. For example, in Paris where voters are more educated and economically more active Macron received 90 percent of the votes.

Abstention at the polls was highest this time compared to the previous Presidential elections. It amounted to 25 percent of the voters. It is assumed that supporters of the far-left and far-right did not go to the polls.

His victory is a consolation for those who stand for European unity. Following the Brexit vote in Britain there were predictions of conservatives gaining power in France. President Macron’s victory has halted the forward march of nationalists in France and its impact is felt across the borders of most European countries.

However, he has an unenviable task of reconciling diverse viewpoints of different member states of the EU. The influx of refugees from West Asia, Africa and elsewhere as well as the attitude towards Russia are issues that divide these states. A thorny issue concerns French relations with Russia which are at a low key. The situation is further complicated by the pro-Russian attitude of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who supports Macron. Similarly Britain and France have warmer relations despite their views of the EU being diametrically opposed. Macron’s victory, however, has strengthened the EU vis-à-vis the United States, which under President Trump will be more inward-looking.

A much more challenging task awaits Macron at home. He has to face a General election in June, the First round of which is fixed for June 11th. There is hardly any time left for him to prepare. At present his party –Forward March Party- has no representation in the 577 National Assembly. The established parties – Republicans and Socialists control it. In an effort to gather a formidable group to contest the parliamentary poll he is expecting dissidents from established parties as well as civil society leaders including local government luminaries to join him. Socialist candidate at the Presidential poll has already resigned from that party and has proclaimed his intention to contest the General election from a new party under his leadership. The far-Left candidate has openly broken away from the Communists who supported him at the Presidential poll. Opinion polls also favour Macron over established parties. Hence, there is a possibility of Macron getting a workable majority at the parliamentary poll. However, it is too early to forecast the possible alignment of forces still.

Incidentally Macron has promised a clean and efficient Government under a dynamic Cabinet of Ministers combining experience with expertise and skill. It would also be interesting to the Sri Lankan readers to know that he wants to prune the size of the French Cabinet from 18 to 15 i.e. by One-Sixth! 

 


There are 2 Comments

but ,new jenarations , as new contempory, games some time shortly and methord look like siencely launchly effective economic results, power fully, but may be, its a wisdom of the persion's activities , ! so nations waiting for that!!!!!

we have to get new leadership skill, as youngrs contempary!but they must be very educatd!

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