Return to the spirit of co-governanceAhn Cheol-soo, chair of President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s transition committee, abruptly canceled meetings scheduled for Thursday and did not attend a full meeting of the committee. He was not present at a luncheon meeting slated for Wednesday with Yoon, either. Coupled with the resignation Monday of Rep. Lee Tae-gyu, a lawmaker from Ahn’s People’s Party (PP), the latest development casts a shadow over the future of a joint government between Yoon’s People Power Party (PPP) and the PP.
Ahn’s boycott of his job as chairman of the transition committee reflects his disappointment with Yoon’s one-sided nominations for major posts in the incoming administration. Yoon’s nominees for 18 ministries and agencies do not include anyone Ahn recommended. Ahn seems to be displeased with Yoon’s appointment style based on “personal connections with the president-elect, not on expertise in the field.” As a result, Ahn did not even recommend nominees for employment and labor minister or agriculture and food minister. He complained about a lack of mutual consultations over the composition of the new government. That suggests the possibility that Ahn was excluded from the policy-making process of the joint government.
As a result, the planned merger of the two parties has become uncertain. The PP said that all office holders of the party will step down in an honorable way before the merger. Yoon was reportedly briefed about the reaction from the PP. Working-level officials of the PP also started to describe the situation as “being abnormal.” Given heightened tension and discord, you can hardly expect successful co-governance, not to mention cooperation with the Democratic Party, which will become the opposition after May 10.
A smooth launch of a joint government is the starting point for the co-governance Yoon stressed before and after the election. The essence of co-governance is power-sharing. For Yoon’s part, it could be difficult to share power with the minor party after winning the neck-and-neck race by a 0.73 percent margin. But the new government must deal with the gigantic Democratic Party which has 172 seats in the 300-member legislature. Help from Ahn is desperately needed to first weather tough confirmation hearings lying ahead and win the June 1 local elections to help settle a joint government. Yoon must not forget that successful co-governance was a promise he made to meet the demands of the people for the termination of the confrontational political culture in Korea.
Yoon seems to find no problem with excluding candidates recommended by Ahn. Prime Minister nominee Han Duck-soo sided with Yoon by saying it’s difficult to blindly adhere to the principle of co-governance. We don’t think so. We hope Yoon comes forward to address the internal friction through balanced appointments and policies.