[EDITORIALS]Get the priorities straight

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[EDITORIALS]Get the priorities straight

Roh Moo-hyun and Chung Mong-joon have confirmed their cooperation in the presidential campaign. They agreed on a constitutional revision, which would enable presidential powers to be divided and shared between the two. If Mr. Roh is elected, both parties will promote constitutional revision after the general election scheduled in 2004.

A presidential system with presidential powers divided between the president and prime minister is Mr. Chung's idea. Mr. Roh wanted to avoid controversy over the plan to "divide the power and share the benefits." It seems that Mr. Roh accepted the proposal to gain the synergy effect of a unified candidacy. There is no thrill in the revision as there is in the process of unifying the candidates. It requires calm and discretion since it goes to the basic foundation of our nation.

Both parties claim that they have paved a road to correcting the abuses of an imperial presidency. But revising the constitution is complicated. First, changes should be approved by two-thirds of the lawmakers in the National Assembly. Then it should be supported by voters in a national referendum. The next president is expected to devote his energy to get enough seats in the Assembly in his first year of office and, in the ensuing year, endeavor to push through the amendment. That is, out of the five years of his term he has to set aside two years for constitutional revision. Political power is delicate. In the past, agreements on the cabinet system among the three parties in 1992 and between Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jong-pil in 1997 were wasted.

Also controversial is the priority of cooperation. Without first coordinating differences on North Korea and public welfare policies, agreeing on a revision would be the wrong order. It is not proper that National Alliance 21 gives the impression that it demands constitutional revision as a reward for unified candidacy. Cooperation on the election starts with coordinating policies. To be free from blame that the amendment was a condition for their cooperation, they should present persuasive programs for reform.
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