[FOUNTAIN]When moving day is yearsThe Bundestag, the lower house of Germany's congress, had a heated historical debate in Bonn on June 20, 1991. Although it was agreed that Berlin would be the new capital city upon unification, the location of congress and the administration had not been decided.
One hundred and four legislators appealed to congress to vote for either Berlin or Bonn. Regardless of partisanship, all the lawmakers were divided. Those from East Germany supported Berlin, but legislators from West Germany remained divided on the issue.
The most impressive speech came from Wolfgang Schauble, then internal minister from the Christian Democratic Union. Mr. Schauble said, "The symbol of unification, freedom, democracy and legalism is Berlin," asking for support for Berlin as the capital. The result was 338 for Berlin to 320 for Bonn.
Ten years later, the relocation of the capital city to Berlin was completed with the opening of an official residence for the chancellor in the middle of Berlin in May of this year. Berlin is now the capital city of unified Germany.
Strictly speaking, however, Berlin is a political capital. The economic capital of Germany is Frankfurt and the legal capital is Karlsruhe. The capital city of literature is Weimar.
Korea's ruling and opposition parties have clashed over moving the administrative capital to South Chungcheong province as the presidential election nears. The issue has come up numerous times in the past, and a public consensus has formed that the functions of the capital should be decentralized. Due to various difficulties, past administrations could not lay a hand on the issue. Likewise, Japan decided to move its administrative capital 14 years ago, but the debate goes on.
When a presidential candidate makes such a significant pledge, as if he can relocate the capital at one stroke if only he wins the election, we feel a sense of authoritarianism. Obviously, we should put the matter to a national referendum or congressional vote as Germany did.
Regarding the estimated cost of relocating a capital city, on which the ruling party and the opposition party differ greatly, we can refer to Germany. Germany spent 13 trillion won ($10.7 billion). Germany used buildings in former East Germany for its administration and congress －－ no cost for land and construction. And only half the administrative functions were moved from Bonn.
The writer is the Berlin correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Yoo Jae-sik