Amending the electionPrime Minister Han Myeong-sook has been ordered to create a government body to promote a constitutional amendment designed to create a two-term presidency. If the administration supports the president’s political machinations, it breaks its obligation to be politically neutral.
Prime Minister Han also said that ministries involved should take part in the new body and should listen to a wide range of opinions from academic, political and civic fields. That means that scholars as well as the administration are being dragooned into promoting the legitimacy of the constitutional amendment.
The Ministry of Finance and Economy has already filed a report on the social and economic costs of elections, supporting the president’s argument that elections should be held in the same year. The minister of planning and budget appeared on television and made a remark backing the constitutional revision. These ministries have little to do with the revision but they are promoting the president’s arguments. That proves that our fears are already being realized.
The constitutional amendment has become an issue for this year’s presidential election. President Roh said that if a candidate who opposes the amendment was elected he would oppose the new president throughout the duration of their term.
President Roh’s multiple-step constitutional amendment means that the presidential term would be revised first, but the entire Constitution will eventually be up for debate.
People may suspect that the president wanted to use the question of whether people want the entire Constitution revised as the major issue in the presidential election, when the people’s verdict should be based on evaluations of the incumbent administration’s management of the country.
If the administration mobilizes all its resources to develop arguments for the amendment and promote it, that is the same as helping the president to campaign. It seems his ambition is not to amend the Constitution but the result of the next election.
At the end of the presidential term, if the presidential election exerts a heavy influence, affairs of the state will be neglected. The president is concentrating on politics. As if that was not bad enough, he now wants to use civil servants for his cause. If Prime Minister Han wants to back the constitutional amendment, she might as well return to her former political party. At the end of the term, the cabinet must remain neutral in order to guarantee the fair management of the election.