Rep. Kweon Seong-dong, floor leader of the ruling People Power Party, speaks at a meeting on June 27. (Joint Press Corps)
South Korea’s ruling and opposition parties are engaging in last-minute negotiations on forming the next leadership of its legislative branch before the start of this month’s provisional assembly.
Eyes are centered whether a deal could be reached at the 11th hour to stop the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea from unilaterally electing the next National Assembly speaker. The legislative branch has been off work for more than a month, as negotiations have stalled without much progress.
Rep. Kweon Seong-dong, floor leader of the ruling People Power Party, said Saturday upon his return from the Philippines that he will hold an undisclosed meeting with his counterpart Rep. Park Hong-keun of the Democratic Party within the weekend to talk again about who to take which key legislative posts.
The Democratic Party confirmed later on the same day that the meeting will take place between the two before the first plenary session of a provisional assembly, expected to be held sometime Monday.
“I will use this weekend to meet floor leader Park Hong-keun to see if we can reach a compromise on forming the legislative leadership,” Kweon told reporters upon his arrival at Incheon Airport on Saturday.
“The meeting is undisclosed, as requested by the Democratic Party. The meeting is promised to be held,” Park said.
The Democratic Party offered earlier to let the People Power Party take the chair seat of the Legislation and Judiciary Committee, upholding the bipartisan compromise made in July last year. It instead asked the ruling party to agree to take part in the special committee on prosecution reform.
The People Power Party insisted the chair seat should come without any conditions, adding it cannot join the special committee. Any moves limiting the authority of the prosecution cannot be agreed upon, Kweon and other People Power Party legislators have argued.
The two sides have failed to narrow down on their differences in views any further thus far.
The stalled negotiations between the two parties have prevented the National Assembly from holding confirmation hearings for some of President Yoon Suk-yeol’s picks for new Cabinet members. More than 11,000 bills submitted in the 21st National Assembly are waiting for review as well.
It was not known exactly when and where it would take place, and the outcome of the scheduled meeting was not available as of press time. If the meetings fail to produce a compromise, the Democratic Party is expected to use its majority in the legislative branch to unilaterally elect the new speaker on Monday.
The Democratic Party, which controls 170 out of 300 legislative seats at the National Assembly, warned it would elect a new National Assembly speaker at a plenary session scheduled Monday. It already chose to push Rep. Kim Jin-pyo of its party to be the next speaker through an internal vote in May.
Regulations state that a plenary session, if it opens, has to start by having the most senior legislator moderate the session to hold the election procedure for the new National Assembly speaker. The new speaker can be elected in a session where at least 150 legislators are present.