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Bipartisan partnership is required for economic recovery

Bipartisan partnership is required for economic recovery

Posted November. 01, 2023 07:57,   

Updated November. 01, 2023 07:57


Prior to his parliamentary budget speech for 2024, President Yoon Suk Yeol held his first official face-to-face meeting with Lee Jae-myung, the leader of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea, alongside key public officials, including the Chairman of the National Assembly, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court, Prime Minister, and Commissioner of the National Election Commission. During this meeting, President Yoon emphasized the economic well-being of the working and middle-class populations, and Lee reportedly urged the president to prioritize the voices of the people and their economic welfare. This meeting also marked the first time President Yoon had a luncheon with the chairpersons of the standing committees of the National Assembly. However, given that one year and five months have passed since the start of the Yoon administration, this meeting was somewhat belated.

As the National Assembly embarks on its examination of next year’s budget over the next month, the ruling and opposition parties are poised for a fierce debate. President Yoon repeatedly emphasized the importance of “sound public finance” and the “restructuring of public spending” as a response to the uncertainty of external economic conditions. In a budget proposal totaling 656.9 trillion won, public spending saw a meager increase of 2.8 percent, marking the lowest increment since 2015. The opposition Democratic Party is determined to boost appropriations for several sectors that faced budget cuts, including research and development (R&D), regional currencies, and youth-related programs. Given that this is the last National Assembly meeting before the general elections scheduled for 2024, friction between the ruling and opposition parties seems inevitable.

However, the Korean economy faces crises on both domestic and global fronts. The global economy is at risk of stagflation due to prolonged high interest rates and the potential impact of events such as the war in Ukraine and the Israel-Hamas conflict, which could lead to a “third oil shock.” Among developed economies, Korea is considered particularly vulnerable, especially in terms of household debt. To navigate this critical situation, a cautious and wise approach is essential to prevent continued hardship for the people. This is why partisanship should be set aside in the interest of improving the economic situation for the people.

Political disputes should no longer impede economic recovery. To achieve this, the government and the ruling party must actively seek communication with the opposition party and expand the areas where bipartisan partnerships can be formed. Blaming the opposition parties or the former administration, which has been a common practice of the Yoon administration, is no longer conducive to effective communication. Similarly, the opposition party should refrain from opposing for the sake of opposition and be open to cooperation. The first meeting between President Yoon and Lee should serve as a foundation for cooperative leadership that benefits the Korean people.