[EDITORIALS]Last-minute balkingEfforts to revise election laws have stalled in the National Assembly because of sharp confrontations between the three opposition parties and Our Open Party, which claims President Roh Moo-hyun as its unofficial leader. With the Assembly’s special committee on political reform hemmed in by a physical blockade by Our Open Party, the Blue House and Our Open Party tout promises of adopting a parliamentary form of government with a stronger prime minister. They give the impression that these are political maneuvers.
It is hard to understand why Our Open Party used a physical blockade just because their demands were not met. It claims that the opposition’s version of the election law revisions contain anti-reform clauses that defend the vested interests of lawmakers without cleaning up the handling of political funds. But it is no secret that the matter boils down to the size of electoral districts, which essentially translates into the number of seats that each political party could win in the upcoming National Assembly elections. The Blue House proposal to trade a “responsible prime minister” system for the adoption of a mixed electoral district system seems based on its understanding that Our Open Party is in a weak position under the present system.
If the political parties really want to reform politics, they should end the gridlock. Redistricting changes are up against a court deadline, and we remind President Roh and his aides that they initially demanded an increase in the number of Assembly seats. Now they are complaining that the opposition is making the same demand.
The adoption of a responsible prime minister system was Mr. Roh’s campaign pledge, but he has now linked that issue to electoral district size. It is too late for that. If the Blue House really wanted a change, it should have started promoting it a long time ago. Redistricting is not the heart of reform efforts. Our Open Party talks a lot about “new politics,” but its actions are a repeat of past political practices. If they want clean politics, they must concentrate on enhancing transparency of political funds and reducing the vested interests of lawmakers.