'Economic democratisation' buzzword of S. Korean presidential race

On Jan. 27, the conservative Grand National Party, now the Saenuri Party, announced it would include "economic democratization" in its party platform. It pledged "to promote economic democratization in order to realize a fair-competition economy that protects the market, small and mid-sized businesses and consumers from mammoth economic forces."

The right-wing party's epochal change of stance against conglomerates was in line with the party's effort to revitalize its image and regain public support ahead of the April 11 general elections.

The party's new bearing advanced upon public frustration over bipolarization and a "corporate-friendly" administration, resulting in a blueprint for greater regulation of conglomerates and enhanced welfare provision.

But the Saenuri Party's initiative ? which later helped the party win 152 parliamentary seats ? overlapped with that of the main opposition Democratic United Party in the eyes of voters, despite experts' insistence of starkly different approaches and details.

Now, as the political parties ready to face off in the December presidential election, they are determined to continue highlighting economic democratization, each claiming their version to be truer and more effective than the other's.

Numerous political forums to discuss the concept have been set up by lawmakers since the start of the 19th National Assembly, such as "Economic Democratization Forum," "Democratization of Economy" and "Gathering to Practice Economic Democratization." The number is expected to reach over 10 this year.

Every presidential hopeful, including Saenuri frontrunner Park Geun-hye, has expressed determination to realize economic democratization, with their respective think tanks busily drawing up plans.

But the parties' rivalry over economic democratization ? further complicated by opposition from business circles and conflicting views in academia ? have left voters shrugging their shoulders and asking: Just what is economic democratization?

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