Governor takes lead on coalition gov’t idea

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Governor takes lead on coalition gov’t idea

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Nam Kyung-pil

Gyeonggi Gov. Nam Kyung-pil’s proposal of a coalition government has made him a man to watch in Korean politics - and a possible presidential candidate.

A coalition government would involve a Cabinet in which two or more political parties cooperate. A coalition government is usually proposed when no party in parliament has a majority.

The April 13 election resulted in 122 seats for the current ruling conservative Saenuri Party, while the main opposition liberal Minjoo Party of Korea won 123 seats and the recently created People’s Party won 38.

A National Assembly seminar to discuss the option of a coalition government will take place on May 16. It is sponsored by the Gyeonggi Provincial Government, and Governor Nam will open the seminar. Lee Ki-woo, Gyeonggi’s vice governor for social integration, will describe the coalition government experience of the Gyeonggi Provincial Government.

“The seminar has been planned to evaluate the experience of the Gyeonggi Provincial Government in attempting a coalition government,” an official planning the seminar said. “Since Korea now has three political powers, we will also be discussing possible cooperation with them.”

Governor Nam’s aides said that they are planning to invite the heads of all three major political parties to the seminar.

The Gyeonggi Provincial Government has been experimenting with a coalition government since the local elections of 2014. Nam was a Saenuri Party candidate, and after being elected, he announced a coalition government with the then-main-opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), the predecessor of the Minjoo Party. Lee Ki-woo, a former NPAD lawmaker, was elected as vice governor for social integration.

Additionally, positions such as vice governor and those within the health and welfare, environment and gender equality departments have also been assigned to members of the Minjoo Party.

“The Gyeonggi Provincial Government has already begun a coalition government,” Nam said as he addressed 40 lawmakers-elect from Gyeonggi on Monday. “I expect that both the ruling and opposition party members will continue to cooperate to lead forward the Gyeonggi Provincial Government, and in a larger scale, at the National Assembly.”

On Wednesday, Nam met Germany’s Prime Minister of Saxony and President of the Bundesrat Stanislaw Tillich. He reportedly asked Tillich to share Germany’s experience with coalition governments. The country has had grand coalitions on the central government level and currently has coalition governments on the state level.

Nam will travel from Saturday to May 8 to Italy, Germany, Croatia and Bulgaria to meet people with expertise in coalition governments.

Some analyst see Nam’s moves as the start of a possible run for the presidency next year.

In a radio interview, Rep. Park Jie-won, who was unanimously selected by the People’s Party to be its floor leader in the 20th National Assembly, hinted that a coalition with the conservative ruling party would be difficult.

“The party identities are completely different,” Park said. “Last time President Roh Moo-hyun proposed adopting a coalition government with then-Grand National Party Chairman Park Geun-hye, we lost all of our [staunch supporters].”

“[The People’s Party] will not make such a political mistake by forming a coalition with the Saenuri Party,” said Rep. Min Byung-doo of the Minjoo Party. “Because that means the People’s Party would be willing to take responsibility for the failures of the Park administration.”

The last time the Korean government had a coalition government was in 1997, when Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jong-pil formed a coalition to win a presidential election.

BY PARK YU-MI [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]

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