Rekindling co-governance

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Rekindling co-governance

 President Moon Jae-in repeatedly emphasized “cooperation with opposition parties” this year. In a New Year’s speech, he singled it out as “one of the most urgent tasks in our politics,” followed by his underscoring in July of “co-governance in the 21st National Assembly” in an address to the legislature. But his words ring empty as the ruling Democratic Party (DP) stuck with its uniquely domineering ways even in the new Assembly.

Then the Blue House proposed a meeting between leaders of the DP and opposition United Future Party (UFP). And yet, the presidential office and the UFP are engrossed with waging a war of words over the very proposal. President Moon’s Senior Secretary for Political Affairs, Choi Jae-sung, said that he had proposed a leadership meeting with UFP interim leader Kim Chong-in on a visit to Kim’s office, but Kim refused. However, the UFP denied that. It said the DP had not officially proposed the meeting as Choi did it in a haphazard and rude manner. The episode explicitly shows a critical dearth of trust between the two major parties.

After Moon mentioned the importance of co-governance in a meeting on Aug. 5 with floor leaders of the two parties, the DP — buoyed by its super majority of 176 seats in the 300-member legislature — took the chairmanships of all standing committees and railroaded controversial bills after bypassing the UFP. We can hardly deny that the Blue House offered the meeting with the opposition to divert deepening public anger at the DP’s overbearing way of running the country.

The Blue House should have approached a meeting with the UFP more discreetly and sincerely than Choi did with Kim. Also, it should have taken into account the difficulty of the opposition to accept the proposal as DP Chairman Lee’s term expires soon.

The ruling party should have a head-on-head meeting to tackle a plethora of challenges from a recent spike in Covid-19 cases, an economic slump and soaring real estate prices despite the government’s 23 sets of measures to control them. If the Blue House really wants to cooperate with the opposition, it must first put itself in the DP’s shoes and take a sincere approach instead of arrogantly demanding dialogue. In Tuesday’s interview with the JoongAng Ilbo, UFP leader Kim pointed out the need to fix a specific agenda before the meeting and produce tangible results. The Blue House must listen.

The opposition also needs a broad-minded approach to such a meeting if it cares about people’s lives in tough times. Fortunately, the senior secretary to the president for political affairs expressed hopes for a discussion on the meeting immediately. We hope both sides agree to meet in the middle.
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