[EDITORIALS]Talk of ‘coalition’ ― again

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[EDITORIALS]Talk of ‘coalition’ ― again

President Roh Moo-hyun has again raised the idea of forming a coalition government with the opposition. It is the fourth time he has done so. This time, he has proposed a grand coalition under the leadership of the Grand National Party. He has proposed that the cabinet’s power be increased, and said he would transfer presidential power to the coalition. He has even demonstrated a willingness to give the opposition the power to appoint the prime minister and the cabinet. Not only are these ideas unconstitutional, they are creating political confusion.
First of all, transferring presidential power to the coalition is unconstitutional. The Constitution says the presidential system is Korea’s form of government. The president’s responsibilities and duties derive from the Constitution. He cannot transfer them to others, because the presidency is not his personal property. It amounts to abandoning the duty to abide by the Consitution. What does it mean that he would let the Grand Nationals lead the coalition, even though the Uri Party has more legislators? Can the president ignore the will of the electorate in this way? If he really wants a coalition, he should seek the people’s consent in a referendum.
His premise ―that he can’t confidently run the administration when the governing party is outnumbered ―is wrong. With 146 seats in the 299-seat National Assembly, the Uri Party needs to win over only four more votes to pass any bill it wants to, except a constitutional amendment. Since the Millennium Democrats, who share the Uri Party’s roots, and the ideologically compatible Democratic Labor Party each have 10 seats, it shouldn’t take much effort for the Uri Party to win a majority vote. If it can’t run a government, then its own lack of political acumen is to blame. The party had an Assembly majority for almost a year before the April by-elections, and one would be hard-pressed to say that it managed its politics better then. One can scarcely find a bill that didn’t pass because the Uri Party couldn’t get a majority.
If a coalition is formed, and ministers from the Grand National Party call for a growth-centered economic policy and discard the Roh administration’s “three-no education policy,” then state affairs will be paralyzed. Mr. Roh said, “The ideological differences of the Uri Party and the Grand Nationals are not that big.” But the truth is that there is a wide ideological gulf between them.
To continually bring up this idea could be viewed as an evasion of responsibility. People will see it as an attempt to water down the administration’s faults by dragging the Grand Nationals in. The Grand Nationals rejected the idea outright, and the Millennium Democrats and the Democratic Labor derided it by telling the Uri Party to merge with the Grand Nationals instead. Instead of confusing people with his insistence, the president should faithfully fulfill his duties.
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