[Viewpoint] Too much impatience in the air

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[Viewpoint] Too much impatience in the air

When you rush to achieve a goal, you create plenty of room for errors.

Some things — especially legislation — simply take longer to do correctly, and patience is needed.

These days, though, the administration, the legislature and the press are all short on patience.

When the legislative process does not go as smoothly as planned, they start pointing the finger of blame at others, creating an overall sense of hostility and further complicating the situation.

They should, however, understand that crafting laws and structuring policies and procedures is a difficult process.

The administration has expressed its discontent, saying that the governing party blocks the legislative process even on issues where it agrees with the administration .

The governing party has fired back that the administration ignores the party’s stance and pushes ahead policy as it wants.

The opposition party has weighed in as well, saying that the other two parties ignore the opinions of the minority parties.

And then there’s the press, which is quick to lay blame as well. When differences arise in the course of legislation, the press reports the stories using an overall negative tone, using words such as confusion, disharmony and crisis. It seems as if it’s condemning all the parties involved.

Each group seems to criticize one another regarding nearly all major pending issues.

The long list includes whether transfer taxes on multiple home owners should be abolished; whether regulations on real estate in three districts in southern Seoul should be eased; whether only graduates of law schools should be allowed to take bar exams; whether irregular workers should automatically become full-time workers after two years or four; whether the Korean National Housing Corporation and the Korea Land Corporation should be integrated, and whether the cap on conglomerates’ shares in banks should be increased or not.

When we consider principles of representative democracy, such impatience simply cannot be justified or tolerated.

The administration, the body that executes the law, is not allowed to ask the legislature and the governing party to accept its policies in the name of cooperation between the administration and the governing party. Before a bill is submitted, the administration cannot promote a certain policy to the people as if it has already passed the National Assembly.

The leadership of the governing party and the opposition party cannot craft a policy with the administration behind closed doors without consulting party members.

And leaders of the opposition party must not blindly espouse their party’s arguments without listening to the opinions of the ruling party and the administration.

If the process of legislation is faithful to the principles of representative democracy, countless clashes of different opinions and numberless obstacles may or may not be overcome. The process, nonetheless, goes ahead slowly but surely.

On top of these principles, the realities of today make it impossible to rush the process of legislation. Society is becoming extremely complicated.

It is not that the ruling and opposition parties confront each other in a structure of dichotomy. Regarding each issue and policy, various interest groups coalesce and form alliances to support a certain policy. Given this, is it possible to pass a bill into law swiftly through agreements among the administration and the leadership of ruling and opposition parties? Is it possible for the parties to rely on their power and influence to push forward the process of legislation?

It is merely an illusion that the different parties involved will share the same opinion about a certain policy and then it becomes law without difficulty.

Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal was adopted more than 70 years ago, but even then it went through all kinds of controversies and obstacles before it was enacted.

As different opinions and conflicts occur naturally in a democracy, it is often noisy and confusing and people have difficulty drawing conclusions. Therefore, when people are impatient to make certain bills into law, democracy feels irritating. It brings out hostile feelings against others.

If democracy and impatience for legislation are at odds like this, which one should we choose?

A swift process of legislation does not seem to be more important than democracy, nor is it useful for achieving lofty goals. So democracy must be prioritized and impatience must be abandoned.

We must understand that the process of legislation is a long battle in which traps and obstacles of all types must be overcome and where detours and strategic truces are made sometimes. If this is understood well, it will be less likely that the parties involved will simply criticize others for failure in reaching agreements between the administration and the ruling party or between the ruling and opposition parties.

We will see fewer policy initiatives implemented or crafted hurriedly. We will see fewer negative press reports, which make the people impatient, frustrated and hostile as well.

*The writer is a professor in the department of political science at Kyung Hee University. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.

by Lim Seong-ho

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