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Ruling party urges opposition to decide on National Assembly leadership

Ruling party urges opposition to decide on National Assembly leadership

Posted June. 28, 2022 08:01,   

Updated June. 28, 2022 08:01


Korea's ruling People Power Party suggested on Monday to elect speaker and deputy speaker of the National Assembly as well as the head of the Legislation and Judiciary Committee first. The opposing Democratic Party, however, brushed aside the suggestion, arguing that it has been under undue pressure to follow. The opposition party said it would instead launch a special session for the Assembly in the coming month. That means the Democratic Party may elect speaker and deputy speaker without the ruling party joining in. The discord between the parties heightened the possibility of leaving the assembly hands-tied until July.

People Power Party Floor Leader Kwon Seong-dong said during the Supreme Council meeting on Monday morning that the opposition party should agree to elect National Assembly speaker and deputy speaker as well as the head of the committee first if the party truly means to return the committee head position to the ruling party. He stressed that the opposition party should keep the promise it made with people during its election campaign. Kwon added that the opposition party is requesting to pass a highly disputable bill that completely deprives prosecutors of their investigation rights in return for forming the committee and chairman group as agreed. Kwon added that the opposition party’s request to agree on forming a special committee on judicial reform and to withdraw the litigation to the Constitutional Court over the constitutionality of the investigation rights bill is not acceptable. That may be translated the ruling party's direct and firm rejection of the request made by the opposition.

The opposition party’s Floor Leader Park Hong-geun responded in the press conference held in the afternoon of the same day that Kwon's public remarks confirmed that the ruling party does not have the will to tackle the parliamentary vacuum, describing the situation as "talking to a wall." Park continued that the Democratic Party will convene a special session in July to normalize the National Assembly processes and take care of issues related to people's livelihoods and confirmation hearings, indicating his party holding 169 seats in the Assembly may elect speaker and deputy speaker on its own, if necessary. Denouncing that the ruling party has zero interest in bringing the Assembly back on track for work, Opposition Floor Leader Park added that he is still hoping to see the regular Assembly session start as the ruling party makes necessary concessions.

The bad news for the deal is that the ruling party’s Floor Leader Kwon is leaving for the Philippines on Tuesday as Special Presidential Envoy and coming back on Friday. Woo Sang-ho, head of Democratic Party’s Emergency Planning Committee, criticized the move, saying that the ruling party had no will nor interest in the first place to normalize the Assembly and the fact President Yoon appointed party representative as special envoy reaffirms such apathy. Kwon countered Woo's argument, saying that there is ample room for agreement if the opposition party is willing to make concessions and the trip as special envoy can be no hurdle for reaching a deal these days when teleconferences are highly common.

Kyung-Suk Kang coolup@donga.com · Hoon-Sang Park tigermask@donga.com