A lot on his plateFour-term lawmaker Kim Tae-nyeon has been elected floor leader of the ruling Democratic Party (DP), which controls nearly two-thirds of the 300-member 21st National Assembly. He is regarded as close to party head Lee Hae-chan. He easily won in a first vote by clinching a majority of 82 votes from 163 members who were elected in the April 15 parliamentary elections.
His responsibility has become big in tandem with the party’s newfound power. He must line up the support of the main opposition United Future Party (UFP) for a supplementary budget to finance coronavirus relief and social welfare programs, not to mention a New Deal project to rejuvenate the economy. He also needs to complete legislation on launching a new anticorruption investigation agency.
The ruling party’s clout has become oversized through its landslide victory in the general elections. But state governance cannot flow smoothly without cooperation from the opposition. The last National Assembly was one of the worst for dialogue and compromise. The ruling party ignored the main opposition to form an alliance with other liberal parties to fast-track bills on electoral reform and the establishment of an extraordinary investigative body for high officials, including prosecutors and judges. Half-baked revisions of the election law unexpectedly brought about satellite parties, which undermined the design for reform in proportional representation. The election resulted in reducing seats for minority parities. Restraint in power is a pillar of democracy.
The economy is undergoing an unprecedented crisis. The Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked the worst havoc on the global economy since the Great Depression. The government, politicians and the people must join forces to survive the crisis. Cooperation from the opposition is a must. Kim cannot expect it if the opposition has doubts about the ruling party’s intention.
Kim also must repair the ruling party’s relationship with the government. He defeated Jeon Hae-cheol, a key ally to President Moon Jae-in, thanks to deepening concerns about too much dominance by Moon loyalists. Kim vowed to unite the party and muster capabilities of the governing force to fight the crisis. He promised not to repeat the party’s past mistakes of poor prioritization in policies. He must stay true to that consoling commitment.
JoongAng Ilbo, May 8, Page 30