‘No’ to 2-Term Presidency

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‘No’ to 2-Term Presidency

National Assembly Speaker Lee Man-sup said Sunday calls for a change to a two-term presidency made by aspiring candidates lack justification and feasibility, and called it a tactic to woo support from both parties and voters.

"The calls for revision stem from election strategies for the 2002 presidential elections," the speaker said in an interview with JoongAng Ilbo. "It can not work and it is impossible to achieve."

A change to a U.S.-style presidency would require a constitutional amendment.

Reps. Kim Joong-kwon, Hahn Hwa-kap and Rhee In-je, all high-ranking members of the ruling Millennium Democratic Party, favor the change.

On the other side of the aisle, Reps. Park Geun-hye and Kim Deog-ryong of the opposition Grand National Party have also called for the revision.

Supporters of the change say by allowing a presidential candidate to name a running mate, the revision would lessen the effect of regionalism on the election. And by creating a two- term presidency the so-called "lame-duck syndrome," in which a president becomes ineffective before the end of a single term, could be offset.

"First, the constitutional amendment must pass parliament with a two-thirds majority," Mr. Lee said.

He went on to say that he doubts an amendment could pass because of the opposition party's majority in the assembly and the shaky nature of the coalition between the ruling party and the United Liberal Democrats.

And even if the amendment passed the assembly, it would still have to be approved in a national referendum, Mr. Lee added.

"It would be hard to sell this to the public," he said.

On revising the National Security Law, the speaker said that "it must be changed to fit the era of reconciliation between the two Koreas."

As for the prosecution's investigation into national intelligence agency funds funneled to the opposition party in 1996, Mr. Lee said that it should pave the way for clean elections.

by By Lee Jung-min

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