[EDITORIALS]Start debating revisions nowDiscussion of a constitutional revision is under way. At a gathering of Our Open Party legislators-elect, some participants urged the adoption of a two-term, four-year presidential system.
Park Geun-hye, chairwoman of the Grand National Party, has left it open to internal discussion, saying, “I support the system of a two-term, four-year presidency.” The Democratic Labor Party repeatedly said it is in favor of the new system.
The current conditions are ideal for a public discussion on a change in the constitution. First, political leaders cannot hold onto power indefinitely, as they did in the past. It is time to revise the constitution, which was made in October 1987, to reflect today’s political reality.
Back in 1987, the writers of the constitution were influenced by the political interests of Roh Tae-woo, Kim Young-sam and Kim Jong-pil, who led the nation at the time. But the 17th Assembly elections marked the end of the “three Kims” era. It is necessary to find a political system that fits our lives now and that can stand the test of time.
Considering the political schedule ahead of us, it is not too early to start discussions. The presidential term now lasts five years, while an Assembly term is four years. The discrepancy in term lengths makes politics complicated and unstable. It forces a president to work with an Assembly that was formed before he took office. Overlapping local elections mean that an election is held almost every year, wasting money.
If the constitution is revised at some other time, either the president or the lawmakers should give up part of their term. Fortunately, presidential and the 17th Assembly terms expire in the first half of 2008 simultaneously. If we act soon, we can minimize the potential trouble caused by a constitutional revision.
When revision debates begin, we have to study all kinds of opinions on not only the two-term, four-year presidency, but also the Cabinet system and the current political system.
There is no reason to hesitate to make a system that meets our current needs and to form a national consensus. Politicians can begin by having internal consultations and then start a dialogue on the issue at the meeting of the ruling and opposition party leaders scheduled for early next month.