A new era of consensus

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A new era of consensus

For more than two years since the inauguration of the Lee Myung-Bak administration, politics in Korea have been log-jammed, but we’re finally seeing moves to rejuvenate communication among competing parties. The government and the ruling Grand National Party have started to make efforts to reach out to opposition parties, and the opposition camp appreciates such moves by the ruling camp.

At a leaders’ meeting Sunday between the GNP, cabinet and Blue House, the government made public a decision to report its major policies not only to the GNP, but also to opposition parties to seek their understanding and cooperation before policies officially announced. In addition, the government also decided to hold consultative meetings with opposition parties when necessary.

The key to democracy is dialogue and compromise. But we have seen so many irrational arguments and violence at the National Assembly that the normal process of rational debate has been interrupted time and time again.

When a ruling party pushes bills through the assembly solely because of its majority advantage it has a detrimental impact on the spirit of democracy.

The current administration has relied on its majority in the first few years. As a result, there was almost no room for a rational debate on its national projects - Sejong City or the four rivers redevelopment plan - and political conflict was only aggravated.

Even on such an important issue as revamping national examinations for civil service, the government attempted to implement a new hiring system without consultations - even with the ruling party - creating more misunderstanding and discord than necessary.

The main opposition Democratic Party’s floor leader Park Jie-won has generously expressed his appreciation for the government’s effort to communicate better. In an unofficial meeting, he said that the government had not only tried to explain its major national projects to seek cooperation from the DP but also adjusted its appointment plans for high-ranking officials after hearing the DP’s views on the candidates.

The DP says that Lee Jae-oh, who recently became minister without portfolio, played a big part in the administration’s change of attitude.

It remains to be seen if such a constructive atmosphere will continue down the road.

We welcome the remarkable shift in the political arena, in which both the government and ruling party are willing to consider their counterparts in making decisions. The opposition appreciates such efforts too. We urge all politicians to enter a new era of consensus.
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