• The dawn before one-party dominance: South Korea's road to party politics under the Supreme Council for National Reconstruction, 1961–1963

    Kyonghee Lee (see profile)
    Egas Moniz Bandeira, Ivan Sablin
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    Book chapter
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    This chapter offers insights into the party-political formation initially intended by the South Korean military junta under the leadership of Park Chung Hee when it founded the Democratic Republican Party in 1963. It narrates political developments between the coup of May 1961 and the general election in 1963 relevant to the founding of the party. South Korea's first military junta sought to acquire popular mandate to stay in power by a demonstration of its adherence to the pledge of a swift return to civilian rule, albeit one in which its members would retire from the army and run as candidates of its own political party. To do so, it had its Supreme Council introduce legal or supra-constitutional devices to place political parties at the heart of the new political landscape and to assist its own party in securing hegemony. Ideology has played various roles in non-communist military regimes of the twentieth century but its role in 1960s South Korea was that of an antithesis. The country's geopolitical location, its position in the non-communist bloc and high economic and military dependence on the United States and other bloc nations, and the pronounced conservative and anti-communist tendencies of the majority of the voting public made anti-communism an important element of political programs. Ideological doubts cast by the United States and conservative politicians on coup leaders Park and Kim Jong-pil made the element indispensable. For the junta, the party politics to come after it lifted the universal ban on political activities had to be anything but a one-party system. Its leading members spoke of an alternative democracy different from the ill-fitting Western democracy but they had to deny labels like “guided democracy.” What resulted was a political party that spoke much more frequently about what it did not believe in, namely communism, Western democracy, and the one-party system, than what it did.
    This study was completed as part of the project “ENTPAR: Entangled Parliamentarisms: Constitutional Practices in Russia, Ukraine, China and Mongolia, 1905–2005,” which received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (grant agreement no. 755504).
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    1 year ago


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