[EDITORIALS]Elect a speaker quickly

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[EDITORIALS]Elect a speaker quickly

The newest political battleground is the competition between the two major parties for the post of speaker of the National Assembly for the second half of the 16th session.

The positions of the major political parties in the Assembly have changed and speakership is related to the parties' political strategies for the December presidential election.

President Kim Dae-jung has resigned from the Millennium Democratic Party, so there is no official ruling party. The Grand National Party has the largest number of seats in the Assembly, followed by the Millennium Democratic Party.

Traditionally, the speaker comes from a governing party; without one, some strange arguments have been advanced.

Since President Kim's exit from the MDP, it has been trying to distance itself from a series of corruption scandals involving the president's sons and key aides. But the party claims it is "effectively" the ruling party and so deserves to name the speaker. It wants to grab the honors but duck the responsibilities.

The Grand National Party is not very different. It tries to link the MDP with President Kim but severs the connection when it comes to naming the speaker, arguing that since there is no ruling party, it should get the post by weight of numbers.

Lee Man-sup, the outgoing speaker, has proposed a free election in which all lawmakers cast a secret ballot. That method is in line with the spirit of the National Assembly Act, which was revised in February to require the speaker to quit his party to advance the concept of the speaker's neutrality.

The proposal deserves serious discussions, although there is some suspicion that Mr. Lee hopes to win another two-year term through his new scheme.

Some make the gloomy prediction that the two parties' confrontation will keep them from electing a new speaker by May 29, when Mr. Lee's term expires. The legal deadline for electing a new speaker is Saturday.

Each party should abide by the spirit of the law and select the leader of a new house to take care of the people's business.
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