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Opposition pans Moon’s multipartisan effort

July 26,2018
What was supposed to be an effort by President Moon Jae-in to encourage multipartisan support for his agenda has instead drawn fire from opposition parties on both sides of the aisle.

The reaction from the left and right was sullen at best after Blue House spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said at a briefing on Monday that the president was mulling a “collaborative cabinet” ahead of an impending major cabinet reshuffle next month. That might mean opening up minister posts in agriculture, environment, gender equality, labor and trade to opposition figures.

The left-wing Party for Democracy and Peace voiced dissatisfaction with what it called the Moon administration’s attempt to trade cabinet seats for legislative support.

“Trying to prod opposition parties with one or two cabinet seats is not joint but unilateral governance,” the party’s leader, Cho Bae-sook, said at an internal meeting on Wednesday. “If the Blue House truly wants joint governance, it must approach the issue of reforming the electoral and presidential systems with sincerity.”

However, others in the party have been calling for a broad coalition between progressive lawmakers and remain open to joining Moon’s cabinet as long as that collaboration is limited to those on the left.

Despite the Moon administration’s ambitious aim to overhaul much of the country’s laws and regulations, the ruling Democratic Party’s lack of a legislative majority, at 130 seats, has served as a constant roadblock to reform efforts. A collaborative cabinet - pundits have been cautious about labeling it as a coalition agreement - could help overcome this weakness by coopting the opposition into support.

The president’s spokesman on Monday said conservative lawmakers would also be considered in such a cabinet, though most analysts believe positions would be limited to the broader progressive camp.

Two conservative parties have panned the proposal and argue its intention is to silence their criticism of the administration. In a radio interview on Wednesday, Kim Kwan-young, floor leader of the Bareunmirae Party, said his party would be open to joining the cabinet only if the Blue House agreed to certain conditions that would enable a coalition agreement.

Members of his party argue that senior aides wield unwarranted influence in the Blue House while ministers are largely overlooked. A coalition agreement, analysts say, may ensure that the Bareunmirae Party’s participation does not go unrewarded.

BY SHIM KYU-SEOK [shim.kyuseok@joongang.co.kr]