[EDITORIALS]Make up your mindThe Constitutional Court declined to rule on the constitutionality of President Roh Moo-hyun’s proposal for a national referendum on his leadership. Accordingly, the constitutionality controversy has come to a full stop. The time has come for the president to clarify whether he will withdraw his referendum proposal or carry through with it.
The court reserved its decision on the constitutionality of the proposal on the grounds that it is “not subject to the court’s evaluation.” Therefore, it is not right to try to expand the meaning of the court’s decision by assuming that a judgement has been made. It should be noted, however, that four judges out of nine said that the proposal was unconstitutional. “In many countries, there are numerous cases in which political leaders made use of referendums in order to strengthen their political standing,” they wrote. “A confidence vote should not be a referendum that damages the development of democracy.”
President Roh proposed a vote of confidence out of the blue on Oct. 10, when a close aide was being investigated on charges of corruption. It was made concrete when he proposed a referendum on Dec. 15 in a policy address to the National Assembly on Oct. 13. But no progress has been made because of the tangled interests of the political community. For over a month, they debated only its constitutionality. We have never heard, however, that a government branch has studied the legal aspects of the proposal and advised the president accordingly. Rather, the government offices have been just waiting for the Constitutional Court to rule on it.
Now that the court has dismissed the request, we should no longer waste time with it. Look at the realities: In addition to economic woes, there is the troop deployment to Iraq, the realignment of U.S. Forces in Korea to the south of the Han River and the construction of a nuclear waste disposal facility in Buan. The political confusion over the vote of confidence must come to an end now.
Mr. Roh should not try for political gains by dragging out his decision on the vote. It will only worsen political instability. We urge the president to decide.
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