Committee to be formed to review the Constitution

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Committee to be formed to review the Constitution

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A group comprised of chairmen, floor leaders and chief policy makers of the Saenuri and Democratic United parties pose for press yesterday in the National Assembly, after they agreed to form a special legislative committee to amend the Constitution. [NEWSIS]

Both main parties in the National Assembly yesterday agreed to form a special legislative committee to amend the Constitution, leading to speculation that the current single, five-year presidential term could be changed to allow for a second term.

The six-person group, comprised of chairmen, floor leaders and chief policy makers of the Saenuri and Democratic United parties, said yesterday they “recognized a need for an amendment to the Constitution.”

“We decided to form a joint committee to prevent unnecessary conflicts [from the two parties on the amendment issue] which could arise from uncoordinated discussion [without a joint committee],” said Na Seong-lin of the Saenuri Party during a press briefing yesterday.

Yesterday’s agreement by the two major parties marks the first time for them to launch such a joint committee.

The talk of a constitutional amendment had been repeated by then-presidential candidate Park Geun-hye of the Saenuri Party and Moon Jae-in of the DUP during the election campaign.

They both asserted that changes were needed as political and social conditions have changed since the last amendment to the Constitution was introduced in 1987.

If the drive for constitutional change gets in full swing, one of the key issues is expected to be shifting the current single, five-year presidential term into two four-year presidential terms, such as that used by the United States.

Efforts to modify the power wielded by the president and legislative authority to reflect changes in Korea’s democracy are also expected.

Lee Jae-oh, the five-term Saenuri lawmaker who has been advocating for constitutional revision, said yesterday he “strongly supports the formation of the special committee on the revision,” adding on Twitter the two parties “should work on the matter with a broad point of view.”

Korea’s Constitution has been left unchanged since a constitutional amendment in 1987, which gave the people power to elect a president by popular vote and disallowed an incumbent president to seek a second term after five years, with the purpose of preventing a president from holding power for too long.

The two parties also agreed to work together on 83 policy platforms that were supported by both parties during the election campaign last year in the run-up to the Dec. 19 election.

The consultative body said that the two parties will review the platforms during the provisional session this month, which began this Monday and lasts through April 30, and put them forward for legislation by the end of June.

The leaders of the two parties shared opinions that platforms on economic democratization and people’s livelihood should be prioritized in the legislative process.

By Kang Jin-kyu [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]

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