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No need for consultative political reform body

Posted November. 20, 2012 04:17,   


Moon Jae-in, presidential candidate of the main opposition Democratic United Party, and independent rival Ahn Cheol-soo on Sunday released a political reform plan that they called “Joint Declaration of New Politics,” but this was just a half-baked agreement. New politics cannot be achieved by the ruling or opposition party alone, but only if political forces reach agreement and the National Assembly legislates the agreed idea. The three candidates might not be enough to overcome resistance by the privileged government and politicians in political reform. On the proposed adjustment of the number of parliamentary seats, the Moon camp hints at raising the number of seats of proportionate representation and reducing the figure for municipal and provincial constituencies while keeping the existing number of seats. The Ahn camp says, however, “It`s about cutting the number of seats.” This partly reflects that the candidates care about lawmakers.

Certain items in the joint declaration are consistent with political reform suggested by Park Geun-hye, the presidential candidate of the ruling Saenuri Party. They are a guarantee of the prime minister’s right to recommend Cabinet appointments and a ministry`s power over personnel matters; forming a committee with civilians for dividing electoral districts for lawmakers; running year-round the Special Committee on Budget and Accounts; and abolishing the party’s recommendation of lower-level lawmakers. The three presidential candidates have proposed many innovative reform plans of their own. Both the ruling and opposition parties competitively pursued political reform in the new National Assembly elected April 11. The candidates’ proposals are roughly similar, albeit different in certain contents. If the candidates hold talks, they could easily produce common ideas.

Hopefully, a so-called consultative body on political reform proposed by Ahn Dae-hee, chairman of Saenuri`s political reform committee, can be formed as soon as possible. Ahn suggests that a body with participation of the three candidates, former chairman of the National Assembly, and representatives of civic groups should be formed and produce common reform proposals and let the three candidates pledge to keep the promises. The Ahn camp initially welcomed the idea, but later wanted to discuss it after the opposition unified its presidential candidate. In the end, Ahn`s side accepted the idea Monday. The Moon camp welcomed the idea and proposed a bipartisan delegate meeting, but got cold feet by proposing that the extension of voting hours be discussed first.

Political reform is the agenda of the times regardless of the unified opposition candidate and the next president. If the candidates sincerely want political reform, they have no reason to postpone a meeting for producing common reform plans. Political reform should be based on rule of law. New politics completes democracy, and this is possible only after rule of law takes deep root in the country.