Constitution amendment moves start to quicken

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Constitution amendment moves start to quicken

A special legislative committee led by veteran Saenuri lawmaker Lee Jae-oh formed to amend the Constitution met for the first time on Thursday at the National Assembly, raising hopes that lawmakers will reach a breakthrough agreement on revising Korea’s Constitution in nearly 27 years.

The main amendment being considered is the introduction of a second term for the Korean president.

Expectations are high this year that politicians will reach across the aisle and work in a bipartisan manner to revise the Constitution, particularly given that there are so many lawmakers in Lee’s group, informally known as the Lawmaker’s Group on a Constitutional Amendment.

So far, 151 lawmakers from the Saenuri Party, the main opposition Democratic Party and the minority Justice Party have joined in the cause.

“Amending the Constitution is the centerpiece of new politics. Only with it, new kind of politics [that bring hope to people] will be realized,” Lee, a five-term lawmaker, said during the meeting.

To submit a bill for a Constitutional amendment, approval from half the number of sitting lawmakers is required. The president can also submit a bill to the National Assembly for a vote, and two-thirds of lawmakers must vote in favor of the bill for it to pass.

Within 30 days after the bill passes the legislature, it must be approved by more than half of voters in a national referendum for it to take effect.

“We will try our best to send an amendment bill to the Assembly for a vote and to put it to a national vote on June 4 [when the local elections are held],” Lee said.

Calls to change the Constitution have grown in recent years as the political landscape has evolved. Korea’s Constitution has been left unchanged since a constitutional amendment in 1987.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]


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