Cross-Voting Falls ThroughA mainstream lawmaker from the Grand National Party criticized the outcome of the election for National Assembly speaker, which took place at the opening session of the sixteenth National Assembly on June 5 by saying, “What is the political meaning of the speakership being decided on a party-line vote? Can we now consider that the newly-elected lawmakers, who made their first votes in the National Assembly--especially the new political generation--have accepted politics as usual?＂.
Lawmakers from the Millennium Democratic Party, the United Liberal Democrats, and the GNP voted straight down party lines according to the leadership of their respective parties.
The 110 freshmen lawmakers to the National Assembly had promised a “political revolution” where representatives would not be bound to vote along party lines, but would rather vote according to their own preferences. However, the ＇refreshing political uprising,＇ that they had bragged about never took place. The coalition between the MDP and the ULD continued unabated. The GNP tried to make the most political hay possible out of the situation questioning, ＂where have all the new politicians from the MDP, who insisted on their independence, gone?”.
The GNP, whose membership has been torn by strife and defections, celebrated their own party discipline while hypocritically criticizing the MDP-ULD coalition for exercising a similar level of party discipline.
A MDP lawmaker from the so-called “386 generation” commented that, ＂I feel a bit ashamed.＂ A newly-elected GNP lawmaker in his 30s also expressed concern that, ＂I am worried that there would be public criticism that the 386ers are not any better, even though they had insisted on their firm belief in reforms.”
However, the newly elected lawmakers justified their votes saying, ＂I have considered and compared the candidates according to my personal standards, but the reality is that my party needs to have the speakership to enact legislation I believe in. Therefore, I determined that voting against my party was not appropriate under those circumstances.＂ Quite a number of newly-elected lawmakers commented that, ＂there is a limitation to voting your conscience. Since the political party is the foundation of a democracy within the National Assembly, it was definitely proper to follow the party＇s opinion, once decided.＂
by Lee Sang-il