A bad attitudeThe ruling Democratic Party (DP)’s overbearing way of operating the new National Assembly continues. Elated by a landslide victory in the April 15 parliamentary elections, the DP on Monday unilaterally convened the 21st Assembly to pass the liberal Moon Jae-in administration’s third supplementary budget bill amounting to 35.3 trillion won ($29.3 billion) after opening 16 out of 18 standing committees. On Tuesday, the ruling party even opened a full session of the Special Committee on Budget and Accounts — the last phase of passing budget bills.
In the process, the ruling party increased the budget by a whopping 3.1 trillion won on its own, including 2.3 trillion won by the Industry and Resources Committee and 316.3 billion won by the Agriculture, Dairy, Food, Oceans and Fisheries Committee — all without opposition parties’ participation and after only one or two hours of deliberations in most cases. An opposition lawmaker stormed out of a conference room to protest the “domineering ways of the ruling party and government.” No matter how urgent a need to pass the budget bill to help the government battle against a Covid-19-triggered slump, the DP should not railroad it through such a hurriedly insulting manner.
The DP is also poised to start a special law enforcement agency to investigate corruption among high-level government officials, including prosecutors and judges. If two of the seven members who would recommend two candidates for the head of the agency oppose a candidate backed by the DP, the agency cannot take off due to a lack of a quorum. The bill was drafted and passed unilaterally by the DP in a plenary session last year despite vehement objections from the opposition. After the UFP refused to help the DP with the appointment of the head of the agency, the DP has threatened to revise and pass it unilaterally.
In a farcical move, DP Chairman Lee Hae-chan threatened to “speedily launch the controversial law enforcement body with special measures, including a revision.” A super majority of 176 seats in the 300-member Assembly does not give the ruling party the power to amend a bill even before it is implemented. Such an attitude is very dangerous.
The DP is running the legislature in an unprecedented way. It is wrong for the ruling party to operate the National Assembly without any compromise with the opposition. If so, why did President Moon call opposition parties “political partners” in his inauguration speech three years ago? A ruling party must not ignore the spirit of coexistence and cooperation with opposition parties. Persuading them is also the ruling party’s responsibility. Co-governance is the key to a successful democracy.