Voting is the way forwardMore than half of the major opposition Democratic Party members are against a physical clash with the ruling Grand National Party and instead propose a conditional vote on the free trade agreement with the United States. Of 87 members, 45 signed and presented a compromise proposal in hopes of avoiding a head-on collision during today’s National Assembly session.
The moderate faction is proposing that the opposition take part in the vote even if they vote “no” instead of blocking the session, on the condition that the government renews talks with the U.S. over the contentious investor-state dispute settlement clause.
The proposal is similar to the one floor leaders of the two main parties agreed to last month. Hwang Woo-yea, GNP floor leader, and his DP counterpart, Kim Jin-pyo, had agreed to put the FTA to a vote, giving the government three months to renegotiate the controversial provision allowing investors to take disputes to an international arbitration panel.
But the new proposal demands talks take place immediately after the ratification.
The compromise is reasonable enough. The package agreed on by the two floor leaders already accepted many of the demands made by the main opposition. But hardline members still oppose the agreement and want to thwart the FTA’s ratification at all costs.
DP leaders and the hardline faction refuse to pay attention to reasonable demands from their moderate peers.
They fear if they accept the compromise, they will risk their coalition with the splinter Democratic Labor Party and other radical liberal forces during the parliamentary and presidential elections next year.
They are jeopardizing a crucial state policy goal for their political ambitions and interests as well as deepening social conflict and division. Most people agree that a free trade pact with the U.S. is best for our economic future and national interests.
The opposition politicians should fulfill parliamentary obligations and manifest their opinion in the assembly through votes. In democracy, it is the rule of thumb to follow the majority opinion. The leadership of the main opposition must return to the path of parliamentary politics and democracy.