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Democratic Party tries to monopolize National Assembly

Posted April. 19, 2024 07:46,   

Updated April. 19, 2024 07:46


The Democratic Party of Korea is making hardline insistences regarding the distribution of the chairs of the standing committees of the 22nd National Assembly. The party’s floor leader, Hong Ihk-pyo, argued that the Democratic Party should take the chair positions of the Legislation & Judiciary Committee and the House Steering Committee, with other party members, including Jung Chung-rae, adding that the party must secure the chair position of the Legislation & Judiciary Committee. The former floor leader, Kim Tae-nyeon, even said that the party might take all 18 chair positions of the standing committees. The People Power Party is opposing such insistences by criticizing them as an autocratic idea of wielding absolute power, creating tensions between the ruling and opposition parties even before the negotiations for the composition of the National Assembly begin.

While the National Assembly Act does not specify the allowed distribution methods of the standing committee, their chair positions have been divided in proportion to the number of seats each party has secured since the country's democratization. As the operation of the National Assembly solely based on majority votes will cause a winner-takes-all situation, such practices were performed on the principles of checks and balances. In particular, the parties are expected to be highly competitive in obtaining the Legislation & Judiciary Committee chair position. The chair of the committee, which has the power to control the speed of handling legal bills by exercising the right to examination of the system and wording, was customarily taken by the second biggest party to prevent forceful legislation of the majority party. However, the Democratic Party of Korea argues that since a ruling party member takes the chair position of the committee, legislation has become impossible, not just because it was delayed.

While it is premature to predict how the National Assembly will be composed, it is crucial to remember that the public's grant of 175 seats to the Democratic Party does not imply a monopoly. The party's past precedence in taking the most standing committee chair positions in the first half of the 21st National Assembly led to forceful legislation and criticism for being despotic. This was a significant factor in the party’s crushing defeat in the April 7 by-elections in 2021, which elected mayors of Seoul and Busan.

The Democratic Party of Korea has been criticizing the presidential office for the lack of cooperative governance and co-existence. Yet, the party is also responsible for leading cooperative governance as an important pillar of administering state affairs and a major party of the National Assembly. It must start with acknowledging the ruling party as its partner and composing the National Assembly with a cooperative spirit. If the Democratic Party of Korea tries to run the National Assembly only to its taste, the criticism it made toward the Yoon Suk Yeol administration for its arrogance and self-righteousness will backfire on the party.