DP wants to chair all 18 standing legislative committees

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DP wants to chair all 18 standing legislative committees

The ruling Democratic Party (DP) said Wednesday it will chair all 18 standing committees of the upcoming National Assembly for its solid majority, igniting a war with the opposition on the eve of the legislature’s new term.  
“There is no room for a debate,” Rep. Yoon Ho-jung, secretary general of the DP, said Wednesday. “The opposition has not woken up from the delusion of the past and is still talking about splitting committee chairs 11 to seven.”  
Yoon was rejecting the main opposition United Future Party (UFP)’s proposal that the DP will chair 11 committees of the National Assembly while the UFP will chair seven, based on the number of lawmakers they each have. The two largest parties are currently negotiating how to structure the legislature, before newly elected lawmakers start their four-year terms on Saturday.
The DP will control 177 of the 300 seats in the upcoming National Assembly. The UFP, after its planned merger with the satellite Future Korea Party, will have 103.
“The ruling party controls an absolute majority,” Yoon said. “Until now, the committees were split among the parties because no party had such control.”  
According to Article 41 of the National Assembly Act, heads of the standing committees were supposed to be elected at a plenary session. The ruling and opposition parties, however, established a tradition after the country’s democratization in 1997 that the posts were split based on the ratio of the number of each party’s lawmakers.  
Citing this long-held political tradition, the UFP said its lawmakers should chair seven committees.  
“In the 21st National Assembly, standing committee heads are not something we will negotiate with the opposition,” Yoon said. “The DP, which is the absolute majority, must chair all standing committees and operate them with responsibility. That serves the principles of democracy.” 
Yoon also dismissed concerns that the National Assembly won’t be able to open its session on June 8 as scheduled if the DP and the UFP can't strike a deal.
“I don’t think it will be hard [to meet the schedule],” he said. “We will form the legislature based on law and principles.”
The UFP furiously criticized the DP.  
“In Korea, lawmakers are not allowed to vote based on their own beliefs. All issues are voted on based on the party’s official opinions,” Rep. Joo Ho-young, floor leader and acting chairman of the UFP, said. “The DP wants to control 100 percent of everything.”
Joo said allowing the DP to chair all standing committees will weaken the legislature’s oversight of the administration and undermine the principle of separation of powers.
“It is the priority of the National Assembly to [provide a] check on the administration," he said. "If the ruling party unconditionally helps the administration, the constitutional system and the separation of powers will be destroyed.”  
BY SER MYO-JA   [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]  
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