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LKP’s constitutional amendment will weaken presidency

Mar 17,2018
The main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) said Friday it will seek to revise the Constitution with a focus on delegating more presidential power to the prime minister and invited rival parties to submit a joint bill to the National Assembly by June.

Rep. Kim Sung-tae, floor leader of the party, unveiled the party’s roadmap for amending the Constitution as President Moon Jae-in increased pressure on opposition parties to come up with a joint proposal as early as possible so that it can be put to a national referendum at the same time as June’s local elections.

Kim’s proposal to reach a deal by June reaffirms the party’s rejection of Moon’s timeline.

Moon’s ruling Democratic Party bristled at the LKP’s proposal, denouncing it as a stalling tactic aimed at derailing the proposed June referendum. It also said there is no reason to push back a referendum until after the local elections, as agreement on key points is not expected to be difficult to reach.

The roadmap centers on making changes to the current presidential system that has long been accused of concentrating too much power in the presidency, making it prone to corruption. Critics and the media have portrayed the current presidency as “imperialistic.”

The LKP’s idea is that the president is elected by popular vote and represents the country, but the powers of the prime minister should be significantly strengthened. The party didn’t specify how the prime minister should be selected, but party officials have said they prefer having the National Assembly elect the prime minister.

Currently, the prime minister is named by the president.

Moon has strongly pushed to hold a referendum on a constitutional revision at the same time as June’s gubernatorial and mayoral elections, saying now is the best time to revise the Constitution, as momentum for change would lose steam after the local elections.

The LKP has opposed the idea, arguing that holding the polls at the same time would run the risk of politicizing the issue and that constitutional change needs sufficient deliberation.

Earlier this week, Moon said the government would submit its own constitutional amendment bill to the National Assembly by next Wednesday so that a referendum can take place on June 13 after two months of parliamentary deliberations and other administrative procedures.

If a bill is submitted next Wednesday, the National Assembly is required to vote on it by May 19. The bill needs approval from two-thirds of the 293 lawmakers in parliament to pass. The bill would then be put to a national referendum.

Even if the government submits its own bill, however, chances are not high for it to pass because the main opposition party has 116 lawmakers, more than the one-third of lawmakers required to block the bill.

Yonhap