Arrogant and domineeringThe ruling Democratic Party (DP) is bulldozing away by wielding its supermajority power. It has elected its own lawmakers to fill seats in all six standing committees of the National Assembly in a plenary session boycotted by the main opposition. It had opened the National Assembly without the consent of the United Future Party (UFP) and also formed the floor without the main opposition for the first time since the democracy constitution in 1987.
The newly launched 21st National Assembly has been completely without bipartisanship. Only head count mattered. The rivaling parties vowed a working legislature, but that promise is likely to be soon forgotten.
The hot-potato issue had been the fight over the chair of the Legislation and Judiciary Committee, the last gatekeeper in lawmaking. It has been a long tradition to seat an opposition member in the position to keep the ruling power in check. The DP as an opposition had strongly criticized the Lee Myung-bak government when his ruling conservative party attempted to take over the chair of the Legislation and Judiciary Committee in 2008.
The DP made the same argument in 2012, too. Now that it has an overwhelming majority in the legislature, the party is doing the opposite. DP Chairman Lee Hae-chan argued that his party must chair the Legislation and Judiciary Committee because the UFP blocked every attempt during the last National Assembly when its member had the chair’s seat. Its singular obsession over the seat, which also oversees prosecutorial and judiciary affairs, raises questions if the party has something to hide.
Last month, President Moon Jae-in invited floor leaders of political parties to the Blue House. At the time, they promised to cooperate to demonstrate political will to fight the Covid-19 crisis to the people. But the DP has been entirely one-sided from the beginning. The people have not given the party a supermajority so that it can do whatever it wants. Unilateralism can impair democracy.