Overcome economic crisis first

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Overcome economic crisis first

The People Power Party (PPP) and the Democratic Party (DP) on Monday elected five-term lawmaker Kim Jin-pyo as the speaker of the National Assembly after breaking the long stalemate. Their last-minute deal to form the leadership of the legislature is expected to put the Assembly back on track after a 35-day hiatus. It is fortunate that the two rivaling parties avoided catastrophe in the face of urgent challenges.

The primary responsibility for the legislative debacle should be held by the DP because it reversed an earlier agreement last July to hand over the chairmanship of the Legislation and Judiciary Committee, which is crucial to passing any bills. The DP dismissed the tradition of the parties sharing the posts of the speaker and the head of the mighty committee to uphold the spirit of checks and balances.

But the PPP also should be held accountable for the delayed formation of the leadership of the legislature. Although it won the March 9 presidential election — and yet is a minority in the 300-member legislature — the PPP showed a laid-back attitude toward the formation of the new leadership of the Assembly. For instance, PPP floor leader Kweon Seong-dong went on an overseas trip to help celebrate the inauguration of the new president of the Philippines.

Though the two parties elected the speaker of the single house, they still can engage in a heated battle over how to form a special committee for judicial reforms and over the PPP having lodged a complaint with the Constitutional Court over unconstitutionality of the DP’s railroading of revisions aimed at entirely stripping the prosecution of its investigative authority. The PPP refuses to participate in setting up the special committee, as that means its acceptance of the revisions. The DP must not forget that it pressed ahead with the legislation of the revisions without any public consent. Because the PPP agreed to join the special committee, it must make a compromise.

The Korean economy faces an unprecedented crisis from uncontrollable inflation from the Ukraine war. The crisis is being fueled by high interest rates, high exchange rates and high oil prices, not to mention the country’s record-high trade deficit in the first half amid deepening concerns about recession.

As the complex crisis will certainly prolong, the PPP and DP have no room to fight one another. The power struggle by the two parties frustrates the public even more. They must cooperate to overcome the crisis first instead of engrossing themselves in an internal battle to take the helm of their own party. We hope they will form standing committees before it is too late.
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