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[Editorial] Setting a Precedent in Promoting Bipartisan Politics in Korea

[Editorial] Setting a Precedent in Promoting Bipartisan Politics in Korea

Posted January. 20, 2003 22:42,   


There are pleasant signs of infusing life into the Korean political arena after long absence. It boded well for the Korean politics that President-elect Roh proposed holding a meeting with floor leaders of the ruling and the opposition parties deemed an unprecedented move for the president-elect and agreed a bipartisan cooperation on domestic affaires. In addition, the President-elect Roh`s view on operating the National Assembly that was outlined at the meeting with the floor leaders deserves attention from the public. He conveyed his clear message that he, as the head of the Administration, will regard the National Assembly as an independent legislature when it comes to dealing with domestic political affairs by saying, “You two floor leaders of the rival parties should work together with me as one team to tackle pending domestic issues.” In other words, he outlined his ideas for in which direction he would take to lead the Korean politics in the next 5 years, such as honoring autonomy of the National Assembly and promoting mature parliamentary politics and bipartisan politics.

Not only that, Grand National Party`s floor leader Lee Q-tak replied, “If the President meets with leaders of the opposition parties and exchanges their views on various issues, opposition parties may not block vital bills in the National Assembly following the party lines like in the past,” and which further elevates the public expectation. Taking a further step, GNP spokesperson Park Jong-hee promised and also asked for bipartisan politics to the rival party. It seems that the incoming government is likely to make a smooth start taking into account the fact that the president-elect said he would consult with the opposition party on the nominee for prime minister. It should be great for the nation if the long-awaited political atmosphere is maintained down the road. If politics goes well and politicians are dealing with domestic affairs in a bipartisan manner, well-being of the Korean public can be fully guaranteed.

However, it is premature to paint the Korean politics with optimism in the next five years because there remain a lot of tinderboxes of vicious political conflicts between the two rival parties. The GNP and the MDP floor leaders` yesterday meeting, which was aimed to discuss two key acts concerning the presidential transition committee and confirmation hearings for candidates for government officials, was ruptured because of the tug of war between the two rival parties surrounding investigations into various suspicious cases. They failed to reach an agreement because of complex party lines. In light of that, it seems old habit indeed dies hard. There is long way to go for the Korean politics to realize bipartisan politics taking into account the budding factional feuding within the MDP caused by a “purge list” aimed for the in-house political reform.

Unless the desirable political atmosphere promoting bipartisan cooperation among political parties is ended as a one-time event, the ruling and the opposition parties try to build mutual confidence and strengthen mutual understanding. To that end, they should deliver their promises, play the game according to rules, and respect each other. Politicians should promote the interest of the public by pursuing dialogue and persuasion, and by making concessions for mutual victory of all the political parties instead of complete victor for a single political party.

It is time for the Korean politics to upgrade the level commensurate for that of the Korean public. The ruling MDP, of course, take the initiative in implementing changes to the Korean politics. In turn, the opposition party should deal with the ruling party and its proposals in a more long and future-oriented perspective.