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[Editorial] President’s Remark on Coalition Government Aimed at Passing the Responsibility of His Mismanagement

[Editorial] President’s Remark on Coalition Government Aimed at Passing the Responsibility of His Mismanagement

Posted July. 05, 2005 02:28,   


President Roh Moo-hyun presented an idea of “coalition government” as the solution to the current political situation in which the opposition camp has the majority of seats in the National Assembly. The president attended the meeting of top-level officials of the ruling party, the government ministries, and Cheong Wa Dae without notice on June 24. He unveiled his plan for a coalition government at the meeting, describing the current political situation as an “emergency.” Yesterday, he emphasized the need for a “short-term case-by-case cooperation with the opposition camp” at the meeting of top presidential aides. Cho Ki-sook, presidential secretary for public relations, explained, “The president’s idea of a coalition government is an alternative aimed at revitalizing the stalled management of state affairs.” She also added, “President Roh believes that elements of the parliamentary cabinet system complicate the management of state affairs,” hinting at the possibility of pushing ahead with the revision of the Constitution toward the parliamentary cabinet system.

First of all, we agree with President Roh’s assessment of the current political situation as an “emergency situation.” As evident in the approval ratings of the ruling party which dropped into the 10-percent range, it is fair to say that the government failed in managing state affairs. Even officials of the ruling camp talk of a “premature lame duck.” However, the logic behind the idea of a coalition government, which the president believes as the solution, is “the blame for the mismanagement should go to the system.”

The failure in conducting state affairs is a result of mismanagement produced by clumsy amateurism and populism, not the system. In addition, the ruling Uri Party lacks only four seats to become the majority party. In the existing structure, it is possible to conduct state affairs stably by persuading the opposition through reconciliation. As a result of the 17th general election, the governing Uri Party secured 152 seats and the Grand National Party won 121 seats. It is important to remember that this is the expression of the public’s will to give the government party the majority of the seats and the Grand National Party enough seats to check the government party. It is the responsibility of the government and the ruling party that the structure collapsed as a result of the April 30 by-elections.

After all, the idea of a coalition government is no more than President Roh’s version of reshuffling of the political circles, which previous ruling camps repeatedly put forward whenever they faced challenges in conducting state affairs. Coalition is a way of ruling in the parliament cabinet system by forming a majority camp of parties with the same ideology and policy orientation. Although there is an element of the parliament cabinet system in our political system, it is hard to conceive a coalition government in our presidential system, unless there is a national crisis.

Had President Roh successfully achieved separation of the government and the ruling party and compromise with the opposition, on the basis of public sentiment and opinion, political situation would not have soured this much, making the public feel unstable. There are precedents of failure due to the management of state affairs after making the ruling party bigger in the National Assembly by means of merging political parties and poaching opposition lawmakers. What the president needs now is a change in his mindset, not the power of bigger numbers or a change in the system.