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Steadiness and Coolness

Posted September. 03, 2005 08:34,   


“The Suggestion of a Coalition Government is Undemocratic”-

At the Daejeon City Convention of the Grand National Party (GNP) on September 2, GNP Chairwoman Park Geun-hye told the press, “As the GNP’s position on forming a coalition government is firm, I have nothing more to say [regarding the proposal].”

She nailed down her position in advance of a possible suggestion of a coalition government by President Roh Moo-hyun in the upcoming talks at the presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae.

“A coalition government is unconstitutional, and is also against the concept of democracy as a combination of the GNP and the governing Uri Party might take up more than 90 percent of the parliamentary seats, leading to single-party dominance,” asserted Park. “As we have clarified several times, forming a coalition government is impossible.”

The Grand National Party held a countermeasure meeting regarding the talks on this day, assuming a possibility that the president might make a “surprise suggestion” and discussed ways to deal with the possibility based on a variety of scenarios.

The GNP has not ruled out the possibility that President Roh might suggest a specific deadline for reducing his tenure, relinquishing the prime minister’s post and the right to form the cabinet to Chairwoman Park, or proposing his leaving the Uri Party and forming a pan-national cabinet.

In such cases, Park is said to have set a strategy that she would clarify her position in a brief and clear way.

“We might end up under his control if we have a ‘one-to-one’ discussion with the president. Following our conviction, we will respond in a ‘cool’ manner,” said a senior GNP official.

What is troubling for the GNP, however, is that the major opposition does not have any particular issues with which it could make a surprise attack against the ruling party by suggesting grand agendas such as a coalition government and a constitutional amendment. Another burden for Park is that the younger group within the party increasingly considers putting the idea of a constitutional amendment to a public debate as early as possible.

“Do Not Expect Too Much at Your First Attempt”-

Cheong Wa Dae is taking a long view of this issue, as it is highly unlikely that Chairwoman Park, who has so far been consistently ignoring President Roh’s suggestion of a coalition government, would willingly agree to the presidential proposal.

One official said on September 2, “For the last two months, President Roh has openly suggested various measures including ‘reduction of his tenure.’ In the forthcoming talks, greater emphasis might be put on the conversation itself.” This means that the president would not likely make a “surprise suggestion” to Chairwoman Park and pressure her to agree to his idea.

Nonetheless, Cheong Wa Dae anticipates that the talks might serve as an opportunity to find a new breakthrough in the political deadlock regarding the formation of a coalition government. If President Roh reiterates in person to Chairwoman Park his sincerity regarding the suggestion of a coalition government and she listens to the president, this very fact, Cheong Wa Dae believes, could help mitigate the political standoff.

A Song of “Park” Flying to Heaven?-

On September 2, Uri Party leadership officials spoke highly of Chairwoman Park in an effort to create a positive atmosphere for the talks.

Uri Party Chairman Moon Hee-sang praised Park in the advisory meeting on this day, saying, “I hope that the combination of President Roh’s straightforward and candid personality and Chairwoman Park’s gentle and reasonable character would create a brilliant achievement that would set a milestone for Korean politics.”

Rhyu Si-min, member of the party’s Standing Central Committee, said in an interview that Park “might someday be leading the Republic of Korea if fate allows.” He also added, “I hope she would have a fruitful conversation [with the President] and avoid conflicts, paving the way for co-prosperity.”

Meanwhile, Kim Young-choon, a lawmaker who has been opposed to a coalition government, recommended that President Roh persuade Park in a straightforward way, saying, “If the president shows such a strong commitment to forming a coalition government, we could possibly take this opportunity to expand our discussions into a constitutional amendment.”

Yeon-Wook Jung Yong-Gwan Jung jyw11@donga.com yongari@donga.com