+ A

Still too far apart

June 19,2019
The ruling Democratic Party (DP) and three minority parties agreed to open an extraordinary session this week to normalize much-delayed legislative activities after a two-month-long hiatus. The main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP), with 112 seats out of the 300-seat Assembly, insisted that it won’t cooperate unless the other parties withdraw the controversial political and judiciary reform bills from the fast-track process and agree to hold a hearing on economic policies.

The National Assembly must not remain idle any longer. The law mandates extraordinary sessions every even month. The legislature disputing over whether to hold a session for two months underscores the childishness of Korean politics. The ruling party has also not helped by provoking the opposition every time it has had the chance. In a radio interview, minor opposition Bareunmirae Party (BP) floor-leader Rep. Oh Shin-hwan even said he can no longer put up with this dreary fight.

Oh, posing as a go-between the rivaling parties, said he was most frustrated with the recalcitrant ways of the LKP, which adds one precondition after another to join the legislative activities. He also said he could not understand the Blue House and ruling party for worsening the matter through provocative and hostile comments. Kang Ki-jung, senior presidential secretary for political affairs, described the civilian petition on the Blue House homepage calling for a disbanding of LKP as a “stern public judgment” reflecting voters’ frustration of having to wait until the next general election in April 2020 to punish the party.

Hopes for a breakthrough were dashed after the DP snubbed the LKP’s call for a hearing on economic affairs as a condition for its cooperation in reviewing a bill for supplementary budget. The LKP’s demand was also criticized by the BP. The LKP must return to the legislature if it is really serious about correcting policy mistakes.

The DP must propose negotiation to give the LKP a cause to return to the Assembly without losing face. Even if the legislature opens up for an extraordinary session, the supplementary budget bill can hardly pass since the LKP holds the chair to the budgetary review committee.

There is no other means to pass the budget bill than holding the review session first. The ruling party must remember it has the final responsibility for state affairs.