A maturing of the Assembly?The newly-elected floor leaders of the ruling and main opposition parties step into their new posts this week with heavy burdens on their shoulders.
The incumbent National Assembly members are halfway into their four-year terms, yet have little to be proud of in performance or accomplishment. The dialogue and compromise that are the basics of a democracy have been absent.
The ruling party has been overbearing with its majority clout and the opposition has objected to everything. Legislators abandoned the chambers to spend more time out protesting, sometimes shamelessly using violence.
Floor leaders Kim Moo-sung of the Grand National Party and Park Jie-won of the Democratic Party have the responsibility to bring new order to the political landscape. Fortunately, the two men are skilled negotiators.
They were pupils of political godfathers - former presidents Kim Young-sam and Kim Dae-jung. The two Kims may have left a political legacy of factionalism, but both knew how to play politics through dialogue and compromise.
Both floor leaders defined their new roles in their inauguration speeches. Rep. Kim said he will do his best to restore healthy ruling-opposition relations. He promised to break the barriers between different political factions and parties. Rep. Park also pledged to protest when needed and negotiate when needed. He called upon his party members to protest within the National Assembly chambers. “We cannot sit out in the tent and walk out of the assembly to protest forever.” We hope to see the two floor leaders bring democratic politics back to the 17th National Assembly.
The assembly has a load of things to solve in the second half. Legislators must iron out differences over the government bills on the four-rivers project and the new Sejong City design, as well as the issue of rewriting the Constitution and law on the National Assembly.
Both the ruling and main opposition parties are marred by serious factional friction. Kim of the ruling party must first of all restore communication between the party and the government and presidential office.
Both floor leaders must be careful not to fall prey to political contriving ahead of the general and presidential elections.
To confront these challenges, they must keep to the fundamentals of dialogue and negotiation. They must be aware of the severe public disgust in politicians. The floor leaders must employ their rich political experience to display political civility, concession and dialogue.