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Controversy over Constitutional Amendment to the Parliamentary Cabinet System

Controversy over Constitutional Amendment to the Parliamentary Cabinet System

Posted July. 05, 2005 02:28,   


President Roh Moo-hyun is reportedly pondering on cooperating with opposition parties on a case-by-case basis in the short run as well as establishing “a coalition government” in which opposition parties’ figures join the Cabinet in the mid and long term in a bid to break the current political situation in which opposition parties are controlling the National Assembly, which is generating controversy.

In response, some key figures from the ruling party were said to have met with senior ruling and opposition lawmakers to gather their views and create a favorable atmosphere in an attempt to amend the Constitution to the parliamentary cabinet system, which is arousing a possibility of an earlier attempt for a constitutional amendment.

During a press conference on July 4, Cho Ki-sook, presidential secretary for public relations noted, “Cheong Wa Dae is reviewing all possibilities of establishing a coalition government, including a small-scale coalition government, to merely holding a majority in the National Assembly, and a large-scale coalition government that will even cooperate with the Grand National Party while abandoning its line of policy,” adding, “However, President Roh did not mention the matter of creating a coalition government as a feasible alternative at this point.”

Earlier, President Roh reportedly attended the “11 key figures meeting,” a leadership meeting among the party, the government, and Cheong Wa Dae, on June 24 without previous notice and said, “The government and the ruling Uri Party have hurtled toward a state of crisis, and it might be necessary to join hands with the opposition parties in order to set up ‘a coalition government.’”

Regarding the direction in the power structure reorganization, Senior Secretary Cho revealed the her personal opinion, stating that it is desirable to amend the constitution to the parliamentary cabinet system, “South Korea needs to unify its party structure, which has a lot in common with the parliamentary cabinet system, and its power structure in the Constitution, which stipulates the presidential system, into a one side regardless of the direction,” adding, “The parliamentary cabinet system is fit for the country.”

However, Senior Secretary Cho noted, “Since the issue of establishing a coalition government is possible under the current Constitution, it is not desirable to lead into a constitutional amendment,” adding, “In his presidential campaign pledges, President Roh pledged to put into practice the prime ministerial system and to ponder a constitutional amendment around 2006.”

In a connection with this issue, a ruling party official said, “Concerning the issue of constitutional amendment, a consensus has recently been reached that the constitutional amendment should be directed to the parliamentary cabinet system among the ruling party key figures including President Roh, if a constitutional amendment is realized ahead of the next presidential election.” He added, “To my knowledge, some figures have come into contact with various lawmakers irrespective of the ruling and opposition parties in a bid to gather views within the political circles.”

Jung-Hun Kim Young-Chan Yoon jnghn@donga.com yyc11@donga.com