Saenuri yields speaker post to the Minjoo Party

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Saenuri yields speaker post to the Minjoo Party

The Saenuri Party decided to yield the National Assembly speaker post to the Minjoo Party after a weeks-long melee between the parties that has so far resulted in yet another delayed launch of the Assembly.

“We decided to let the Minjoo Party take the speaker position,” said the Saenuri’s floor leader, Chung Jin-suk, on Wednesday.

The Saenuri’s candidate for the position was Rep. Suh Chung-won.

“I have spoken with Rep. Suh Chung-won on this,” Chung said. “Rep. Suh agreed that yielding the post to the Minjoo Party will show the citizens that the Saenuri Party is a party with a high sense of responsibility.” Chung said the party’s decision will help speed up the formation and launch of the National Assembly and that the floor leaders of the Saenuri, Minjoo and People’s parties will be meeting soon to make further decisions.

The three-party negotiations on the formation of the National Assembly have been ongoing for weeks, until a week ago, when the Minjoo and People’s parties suggested a free vote on the speaker post. The two parties easily outnumber Saenuri in terms of lawmakers elected in the Assembly.

The April 13 general election resulted in a three-party National Assembly for the first time in 16 years, and no party has a majority. Winning 122 seats out of 300-seat National Assembly, Saenuri has one lawmaker less than Minjoo, while the People’s Party won 38 seats.

The last time an Assembly speaker was selected by a free vote was in 2000, when then-ruling Millennium Democratic Party failed to secure a majority in the Assembly. Interestingly enough, Suh Chung-won, the Saenuri candidate for the speaker post, was then-opposition Grand National Party’s speaker candidate in 2000. Lee Man-sup, lawmaker of then-ruling Millennium Democratic Party, won the seat after a free vote.

The Saenuri’s grip on the speaker position was understood as a political move to secure the speaker’s authority to send a bill for a vote. Not a majority party, Saenuri will have a harder time securing three-fifths of all lawmakers or more than three-fifths of the members of a standing committee to advance stalled bills, as required by the National Assembly Act.

The decision by Saenuri to yield the speaker position to the Minjoo Party was heartily welcomed by the latter. “I am thankful,” said Minjoo’s floor leader Woo Sang-ho, “and will cooperate in negotiations to form the National Assembly.”

The People’s Party floor leader also welcomed the decision.

“I express my respect for Rep. Suh Chung-won,” People’s floor leader, Park Jie-won, posted on his Facebook page on Wednesday, noting that Suh, now in his eighth consecutive term, is “the National Assembly’s longest elected lawmaker.”

“I respect his magnanimous decision and look forward to swift formation of the Assembly,” Park added.

Minjoo’s candidates for the post include Reps. Moon Hee-sang, Chung Sye-kyun and Lee Seok-hyun.

Negotiations on chairmanships of standing committees continue.

Chung, Saenuri’s floor leader, said it has been agreed among the three parties that the chairmanships of the Housing Steering Committee and the Legislation and Judiciary Committee will be held by a party that does not hold the speaker position.

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