DP boycott is a dereliction of dutyThe shocking refusal by the Democratic Party (DP) to listen to President Yoon Suk-yeol’s speech on state affairs in the National Assembly on Tuesday constitutes a brazen dereliction of duty as a supermajority party in the legislature. The address dealing with next year’s budget is the starting point for thorough deliberations on the budget presented by the government. Given the massive impact of the speech, the boycott by the DP does not make any sense.
In the address on Tuesday, President Yoon pledged to not repeat the profligate spending under the Moon Jae-in administration and instead use money to support the ignored private sector while protecting lower-income households at the same time. Yoon took the right direction as massive government debt should ultimately be paid by our next generation.
But the main chamber of the National Assembly was nearly half-empty due to the DP’s full boycott. Just five months ago, President Yoon shook hands with members of the DP after finishing his first speech there over a supplementary budget to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic. This time, the DP demanded an apology from Yoon for the prosecution’s investigations of aides to DP Chair Lee Jae-myung after defining the move as a case of “political oppression” on the opposition. The DP even repeated its habitual attacks on Yoon’s hot-mic moment during a recent trip to New York. Members of the DP protested in front of the main chamber to denounce the president for exploiting the top law enforcement to oppress the DP. A boycott of a presidential speech on state affairs is the first since the Park Geun-hye administration.
Worrisome is the possibility of the passage of the 639-trillion-won ($444.7-billion) budget for next year being delayed in the face of an imminent economic crisis. The DP boycotted the president’s address after prosecutors raided the Institute for Democracy — a think tank of the liberal party — once again to find tangible evidence of illegal money apparently funneled into Lee’s campaign before he entered the party’s primary race for the presidential election.
If the standoff continues, the Yoon administration has to spend money based on the previous year’s budget for the first time. In that case, the government cannot launch any new national projects. The DP must stop linking its deliberations on the budget to political disputes.
President Yoon is responsible for securing the budget to run the government smoothly. He must demonstrate political leadership to get cooperation from the supermajority party. Yoon must not forget that he stressed the importance of co-governance in his first speech in the National Assembly just five months ago.