Two new drivers in AssemblyNew floor leaders for the ruling Saenuri Party and main opposition Democratic Party were elected yesterday. Floor leaders play a crucial role in orchestrating the operations of the National Assembly as the prime representatives of their political parties. Given their immense role in the legislature and the sensitive timing of their elections, people have high expectations for their performance.
Choi Kyung-hwan, new floor leader of the Saenuri Party, has to deal with two urgent missions: Calming all the concerns about former Blue House spokesman Yoon Chang-jung’s disgraceful misconduct during President Park Geun-hye’s first official trip abroad and maintaining the integrity of the ruling party.
Since the inauguration of the president in February, the Saenuri Party has failed to make its voice heard due to influence from the presidential office. Now that a fresh party leadership was established with Choi’s election as floor leader, the ruling party must take a different path built on vigor and inspiration. Choi’s strong connection with President Park will also come in handy. The Saenuri Party must also closely cooperate with the opposition to find realistic ways to improve people’s livelihoods considering the gloomy economic situation at home and abroad.
The new floor leader of the Democratic Party, Jun Byung-hun, confronts a heavier and more complicated mission. He has to deal with the challenging task of going beyond the rampant factionalism and left-leaning ideologies in his party to expand its base by luring in as many moderates as possible. Moreover, his helmsmanship carries greater significance than before considering the delicate - and self-destructive - undercurrent inside the DP bent on sympathizing with independent Ahn Cheol-soo’s scheme to establish a new opposition party.
After his election, Jun stressed moral values corresponding to those of ordinary citizens while underscoring the innate role of the opposition as a counter-force to a domineering ruling party. Though it may sound like a disparate mixture, Jun should demonstrate clarity and rationality in policies. We welcome his policy direction considering the people’s loss of pride in their government after the despicable scandal in Washington. Now it all depends on Jun’s leadership to resolve the alarming discord in his party.
But the most urgent challenge awaits both floor leaders. They must roll up their sleeves to turn the conflict-prone legislature into a more mature parliament based on the spirit of harmony and cooperation. They must exert all efforts not to repeat the bad practice of intentionally delaying or blocking passages of bills purely for political reasons. When they fall short of people’s expectations, they will feel the distrust of the people. We hope they help the legislature get back on track through healthy communication and dialogue.