Challenges for National Assembly

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Challenges for National Assembly

With the Democratic Party’s decision to return to National Assembly after nearly eight weeks of outdoor rallies, the legislature is finally back on track. We welcome the opposition’s decision to return, though much belated. Now DP lawmakers must actively carry out their duties in the regular session of the Assembly.

But the opposition still doesn’t want to end its 54-day outdoor rally, underscoring a “strategic” need to go both ways: Outdoor rallies and working in the legislature. But it is contradictory for a political party to work both inside and outside the Assembly. The opposition’s Chuseok holiday claim that it reflects people’s sentiments doesn’t make sense, because it means the party is prepared to resort to rallies at any time, depending on the situation. We are dumbfounded by their use of unfiltered, archaic rhetoric like “struggle,” which is reminiscent of the pro-democracy movement days in the 1980s.

Lawmakers face a mountain of issues to tackle, including the reform of the National Intelligence Service, following its alleged meddling in last year’s presidential election and growing suspicions over Prosecutor-General Chae Dong-wook’s sudden resignation, to name just two issues. The ruling Saenuri Partry must demonstrate political maturity so it can sincerely consult with the DP to hammer out an effective NIS reform bill, clear all suspicions over Chae’s resignation and fulfill their legislative oversight of the government and deliberations on next year’s budget. If the Saenuri can’t reach an agreement on those issues, it will be an easy target for public criticism.

More important are the bills related to ordinary people’s livelihoods. The Assembly must come up with substantial measures to rejuvenate the lackluster economy - including revitalizing the comatose real estate and construction market, which are closely linked to people’s lives. Despite the ruling party’s call for scrapping heavy taxes on the sale of homes by multiple-house owners, for example, the DP vehemently opposes the measure because it could reignite real estate speculation.

Both parties also have sharp disagreements over revising the tax system and welfare policy. But they must reach a grand consensus on whether to increase taxes to enlarge welfare services or downsize welfare promises, including the basic pension for senior citizens.

Both parties cannot pass bills without mutual agreement due to the National Assembly Advancement Law. They must demonstrate sophisticated political skills to iron out their innate differences.

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