Expectations for the DPThe National Assembly is finally expected to return to business. The main opposition Democratic Party, which has been boycotting and protesting in the streets following the ratification of the free trade agreement with the United States, agreed with the Grand National Party to open an special session on Monday. We hope the DP will exercise leadership in helping to deal with pending issues including next year’s budget bill and the bills related to the implementation of the FTA. It should also refrain from making unrealistic demands about the FTA.
The DP is under pressure to recreate itself to regain public credibility after failing to produce a successful candidate for the Seoul mayoral by-election. It must start by returning to its legislative duties with sincerity. The party must also clean up its in-house feud over joining hands with splinter opposition camps for next year’s legislative elections. The party holds a convention over the weekend. It will pose the question of merging with labor groups and liberal forces loyal to former President Roh Moo-hyun. But the convention may turn dirty. At a recent senior-level meeting there was finger-pointing and yelling over the appointment of new leadership of the proposed merged party.
Representative Sohn Hak-kyu, DP chairman, has agreed to most of the pro-Roh camp’s demands. Representative Park Jie-won, former DP floor leader, demanded that party members should have the vote in appointing the new leadership. When Roh loyalists opposed the idea, Sohn allowed it, giving delegates 30 percent of the vote and bestowing 70 percent to party members and the public. Park claimed that Sohn had betrayed the party. Without some compromise, the merger plan could have a difficult time passing at the convention.
If opponents to the merger use physical force to stop the move, the convention may turn messy. Park said he could not guarantee the actions from representatives, local party heads and lawmakers opposed to the DP’s dissolution. With a violent melee, the DP may lose public credibility for good and would have to join the GNP at the ledge. We hope for a compromise over the weekend for the sake of our legislative future.