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New floor leader election hoped to serve as foundation for administration reform

New floor leader election hoped to serve as foundation for administration reform

Posted February. 03, 2015 08:23,   


Rep. Yoo Seung-min (outside the pro-Park Geun-hye faction) was elected floor leader of the ruling Saenuri party, beating Rep. Lee Joo-young, supported by pro-Park lawmakers, in the election on Monday. It can be interpreted as Saenuri lawmakers chose public sentiment toward President Park’s. “I will boldly pursue change and reform while putting the party at the center of politics and state affair administration,” said the newly elected floor leader after his winning was confirmed.

Currently, public sentiment toward the president has reached the lowest point. Even in the political party approval ratings, a gap between the ruling Saenuri and the opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy has been drastically reduced. Yoo was once grouped as pro-Park lawmakers, but he was labeled as non-mainstream as he has been a critic to the president. The fact that ruling party members who are sensitive to public sentiment chose Yoo as the new floor leader is an expression of awareness on political crisis as the General Election scheduled in the next year is approaching. Following the elections for the assembly speaker in June and the Saenuri party chairman on July 14, 2014, a non-mainstream faction member was elected floor leader. This shows that the Saenuri Party has obviously leaned to the faction that is getting away from President Park.

Yoo has been taking a critical stance on the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae to an extent that he called presidential secretaries "kids." Yoo considers himself as conservative in foreign affairs and national security, but he is regarded as progressive in economy and welfare. The new floor leader once criticized "welfare policy without tax increase," emphasized by President Park, and called it a "fiction." On the issue of constitutional amendment that the president regards as taboo, Yoo boldly said, “Politicians must be able to have free discussions and debates (on such issues. I hope the administration to make a drastic shakeup in the personnel at the presidential office, which commensurate the public’s expectation."

On her 63rd birthday on Sunday, President Park said, “Policy Coordination Committee is to start off soon. Through close coordination on policies among the ruling party, the administration and the presidential office, the government will make sure that there will be no more issues that make the public concerned.” It has become inevitable for the president to perform a radical reform in administrating the state affairs, considering the relations with the opposition party. It is necessary to pursue a complete change through decisive reform and cabinet reshuffle. If the past practices continue, such as controversy over lack of communication and demanding ratification on policies and bills made without sufficient coordination, conflicts between the ruling party and the presidential office will go deeper and political disruption will be severe.

There is no major election scheduled in this year. It is right time to address economic innovation and structural reforms in the four major areas -- public sector, labor, finance and education, and reform in the civil servant pension funds, which President Park put priorities on. If Yoo opposes to the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae at every step, it may not be easy to resolve those pending issues. The new floor leader must open his ears to reasonable voices from in and out of the party, and exert leadership to lead the political situation based on sufficient discussions and coordination.