[EDITORIALS]A rudderless cabinet

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[EDITORIALS]A rudderless cabinet

Prime minister designate Chang Dae-whan failed in his bid for National Assembly confirmation, just like Chang Sang before him. Repeated refusals by the National Assembly to approve nominees named by the president is in fact an expression of distrust in President Kim Dae-jung, and it is likely that political confrontation will continue to escalate until the presidential election in December. Under these circumstances, the priority must be a plan to prepare for a long-term prime ministerless state.

We advise Mr. Kim to give up his plans to install a prime minister and appoint an acting prime minister without further delay. He has less than six months left in office and his talent pool has run dry. Looking for a new candidate for prime minister now and (hopefully) getting the National Assembly's confirmation would take at least 20 days even if all goes smoothly. There would be no problems should the president appoint the deputy prime minister for economics to act as prime minister as provided for in the constitution. The Blue House claimed that it had found a faultless candidate in Chang Dae-whan, yet in the end he was defeated.

The two days of hearings only heightened tension among social classes and set no good precedent for hearings in the future. The president can no longer afford to stubbornly insist on naming another candidate. It has also set a record for futility in naming two rejected candidates within 40 days.

The best way to avoid the problems that the Blue House worries about in Korea's international standing and our economy is to appoint an acting prime minister. The administration should not engage in futile conflict over who is responsible for the two defeats; it should step back and work on its preparations for wrapping up its remaining work.

Those who used the nomination as a political ploy should be disciplined. Mr. Chang's rejection was partly due to opposition from the Grand National Party, but both parties should reflect on the partisan sparring that let things get to this point. It is now time to start cooperating to keep the government moving. The political sector also will have to work hard to limit the social side effects of the two rejections. The nominees both flouted the law in some of their dealings, the hearings show, and the people are bitter. It is the politicians' duty to reassure the people that things will change. The public enervation and sense of betrayal is running high as people realize that the Blue House put forward such candidates as their most legally and morally presentable candidates. Healing this wound and preventing such problems from happening again will be more difficult than any political task like normalizing the cabinet. This is all the more reason why an acting prime minister is urgently needed.
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