Put the legislature back on trackThe Democratic Party (DP) has set up an emergency committee led by four-term lawmaker Woo Sang-ho after its defeats in the March 9 presidential election and the June 1 local elections. Though the DP calls it a “committee for innovation,” it will only be active for about two months until the national convention slated for August. It will most likely serve as an ad hoc committee, as hinted at by Rep. Park Hong-keun, floor leader and acting chair of the DP, who said the job of reinventing the party will be transferred to new leadership after the convention.
The DP is oblivious of the need to renovate the party after its overwhelming losses in elections. The party is sharply divided between pro-Moon Jae-in and pro-Lee Jae-myung factions over who should be held accountable for the defeats. Instead, they are engrossed in taking the party leadership to get nominations for the parliamentary elections in 2024. Rep. Woo, the interim leader of the party, has decided to not run in that election, but remains as one of the old democracy fighters.
The most urgent job for Woo is easing the factional conflict and setting the rules for the national convention. Without thorough self-reflection and an effort to reshape the party, he can hardly recover public support. Whoever gets elected as new leader of the party, the public would not change their mind given all the policy failures of the Moon administration, including its botched real estate measures, and bold attempt to run in the local elections without taking any responsibility for the party’s defeat in the presidential election. The emergency committee must reestablish the identity of the liberal party and find effective ways to cooperate with the conservative Yoon Suk-yeol administration.
The first step is normalizing the National Assembly which has stopped for 10 days due to disagreements between the DP and the People Power Party over who should serve as heads of standing committees for the second half of the year. The malfunctioning of the legislature primarily originates with the DP’s reversal of an earlier promise to hand over the chairmanship of the Legislation and Judiciary Committee to the PPP. The committee is crucial to passing bills to a full vote after legal deliberation.
The two major parties discussed the composition of the Assembly for the second half but only confirmed their differences. In the meantime, the legislature could not hold confirmation hearings for nominees for education minister and health and welfare minister with their controversial pasts. If such a logjam continues, the nominee for head of the National Tax Service could be appointed even without a confirmation process for the first time.