Major parties urged to end deadlock over constitutional revision

By Yonhap

Published : Apr 12, 2018 - 10:30
Updated : Apr 12, 2018 - 15:01

Minor parties on Thursday urged the two major parties to quickly narrow their differences over a constitutional revision to keep their standoff from further hampering parliamentary discussions on the highly divisive issue.

In a joint statement, the Bareunmirae Party, the Party for Democracy and Peace, and the Justice Party called for a "grand compromise," highlighting that the revision talks have been fruitless due to the partisan confrontation between the major parties.

The ruling Democratic Party and main opposition Liberty Korea Party have remained far apart over when and how to alter the decades-old Constitution.

"Due to the big parties' political logic, little progress has been made in the efforts to achieve the constitutional amendment and reform of the election system," the parties said in the joint statement.

"We announce our joint position based on the shared understanding that there needs to be a grand compromise in the political circles," they added.

The leaders of the three minor political parties urge two major parties to quickly reconcile differences over a constitutional revision during a press conference at the National Assembly in Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap)

Along with the revision of the charter, the minor parties have also been pressing the major parties to pursue a revamp of the current election system to ensure that they can be more fairly represented in parliament.

"We have to achieve a broad agreement for the revision and the reform of the election system by officially operating a political negotiation body involving the floor leaders of the parties and their members sitting on the parliamentary revision committee," the joint statement reads.

Later, top officials from the minor parties met Reps. Woo Won-shik and Kim Sung-tae, the floor leaders of the Democratic Party and Liberty Korea Party, respectively. They proposed forming a separate dialogue body involving key officials from the four floor negotiation blocs to make progress in talks on the revision.

Woo welcomed the proposal, though he rejected the calls for a concession on the amendment issue. Kim turned it down.

A major bone of contention in the constitutional revision talks is how to address the current concentration of powers in a single leader, which has been blamed for corruption, abuse of power and political polarization.

In line with a government proposal, the ruling party seeks to change the current single five-year presidency to a maximum of two consecutive four-year terms, and strengthen the rights of the prime minister and National Assembly.

But the LKP argues the ruling bloc's proposal would further strengthen the presidential powers. It has advocated a power-sharing model under which the president takes control of national security, diplomacy and other external affairs while the prime minster, to be picked by parliament, controls domestic affairs.

The ruling party opposes the power-sharing scheme, arguing that the dispersion of power could disrupt the management of state affairs, particularly when the country faces a constant security challenge from a provocative North Korea.

The constitutional amendment requires approval from two-thirds of all 293 lawmakers in the unicameral legislature and a majority of voters in a referendum. (Yonhap)


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