Breaking deadlocksPresident Park Geun-hye on Thursday vetoed a controversial revision to the National Assembly law that would allow the legislature to demand the government amend certain kinds of administrative legislation. The president criticized the way the legislature has been dealing with government-proposed bills. She branded our lawmakers’ behavioral patterns as “partisan politics.” The president went so far as to attack the ruling Saenuri Party for its uncooperative attitude toward her governance. The acute schism between the president and the ruling party - as well as between the president and the opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) - could lead to a chaotic situation amid deep friction between pro-Park Geun-hye forces in the ruling party and those with no affiliation with the president.
The president and legislature are both responsible for the crisis. After the NPAD agreed to pass a government-sponsored bill to reform the debt-ridden civil servants pension system, the ruling party accommodated the opposition’s demand to reinforce the legislature’s power to amend the administration’s enforcement ordinances. The Blue House criticized the move as a grave threat to the executive branch’s innate rights to pass administrative decrees.
The president was actually one of those lawmakers who proposed a similar bill to strengthen the legislature’s power in the past. The bill foundered due to controversy over its constitutionality. But she did not explain yesterday why she supported the idea of augmenting the legislature’s power in the past - but opposes it vehemently now. The president also said her administration is the victim of the legislature’s repeated thwarting of a number of government-proposed bills - particularly economic ones - for totally absurd reasons. Her outrage is understandable. But she must come up with reasonable explanations about her flip-flop.
Political issues should be resolved in a political way. The fact that our Constitution gives the president a right to veto and allows the legislature to overturn a presidential veto means complicated issues must be resolved through compromise and coordination. The game of chicken between the Blue House and the legislature is a betrayal of the principle of compromise.
The president has not yet passed her halfway point in office. But the lame duck phenomenon will surely worsen after the Middle East respiratory syndrome outbreak. All the related parties must find a rational way to work together.
JoongAng Ilbo, June 26, Page 30