Restore majority rule
A revision of the National Assembly Act sponsored by the Saenuri Party can hardly pass the legislature after Assembly speaker Chung Ui-hwa made clear that he has no intention to allow them to railroad the contentious bill.
Under the current law governing the legislature, a contentious, deadlocked bill can be designated as a “fast-track” item and put up for a vote when 60 percent of lawmakers, or 180, consent to it. It also significantly reduces cases in which the speaker can use his power to introduce a bill for a vote without first going through parliamentary committees. Such a proceeding is allowed only in times of a natural disaster or national emergency, or when both the ruling and opposition parties agree to it.
But the ruling party planned to add that the speaker can introduce a bill for voting when a simple majority of lawmakers make the demand. It was intended to restore majority rule even when there is no bipartisan compromise.
This controversial amendment to the National Assembly Act was approved in May 2012 under the leadership of Saenuri Party. It was intended to root out embarrassing melees from the legislature, as lawmakers have used everything including a chain saw and hammer during violent scuffles to block the ruling party’s railroading of bills. After the revision of the act, savagery disappeared from the legislature, and the budget bill was passed rather smoothly.
But the amendment brought about more problems. The majority party could not send bills to a vote without the minority parties’ consent, and the 19th National Assembly fell into a nearly vegetative state. The opposition party even linked unrelated bills to the passage of sensitive bills in political bargains. As a result, the country faced a legislative emergency with our electoral map unfinished.
Returning to savagery is not appropriate, but doing nothing about the paralyzed legislature is also unacceptable. We must find a third path. And that is, of course, bipartisanship.
The ruling party’s trick was a problem, but the opposition must stop hiding behind the speaker and start negotiating with the ruling party to change the rules of the game once again. The change should be about restoring majority rule.
Applying the 60-percent rule for all bills - not just for some special cases - is not majority rule. It is the final mission of the 19th Assembly to create a new National Assembly Act before the 20th Assembly is launched. JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 22, Page 31