|Rep. Kim Tae-nyeon, floor leader of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, leaves after holding a press briefing at the National Assembly, Monday, on the breakup of the final round of negotiations with the main opposition United Future Party over how to form the standing committees of the 21st National Assembly. Yonhap|
DPK decides to take chief positions for all 18 committees
By Jung Da-min
The ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) and the main opposition United Future Party (UFP) failed to reach an agreement Monday on how to form the 21st National Assembly's 18 standing committees.
Following the breakdown of negotiations, the DPK, which holds 176 seats in the 300-strong Assembly, held a plenary session and took the head positions for 17 out of the 18 committees, with the position for the remaining one to be taken later, also by a DPK member.
It is the first time since 1985 that a ruling party has taken the chief positions in all standing committees.
DPK floor leader Rep. Kim Tae-nyeon and UFP floor leader Rep. Joo Ho-young held their last round of negotiations Monday morning through mediation by Assembly Speaker Rep. Park Byeong-seug, following a tentative agreement the previous night.
But they failed to reach a final agreement due to differences over how to elect the head of the powerful Legislation and Judiciary Committee. The position has been customarily given to a member of the main opposition party to hold the ruling party in check.
Earlier in the month, however, the DPK unilaterally held a plenary session and elected its members as chiefs of six committees, including the legislation committee, drawing backlash from the UFP. The DPK responded by saying it would give the chief positions of seven other key committees to the UFP, an offer the opposition party refused.
In recent negotiations, Joo suggested the UFP hold the chief position of the legislation committee in the second half of the four-year 21st Assembly. But the DPK opposed it saying the position should be given to the party that wins the next presidential election in 2022.
In protest, the UFP refused to lead any of the 18 committees.
The DPK and UFP have blamed each other for the breakdown of negotiations.
"The UFP notified us it would not take any committee chief post. It was inevitable for us to take all of them to operate the Assembly normally and pass the third extra budget bill," Kim said.
|Rep. Joo Ho-young, front, floor leader of the main opposition United Future Party, leaves the office of National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug, Monday, after the breakdown of the final negotiations with the ruling Democratic Party of Korea over how to form the standing committees of the 21st National Assembly. Yonhap|
But Joo said the DPK should have accepted the UFP's suggestion as the DPK had already made a unilateral decision, taking the legislation committee chief position despite the Assembly custom and strong resistance from the opposition bloc.
"We also see the DPK's suggestion, that the legislation committee's chief position should be given to the party that wins the next presidential election, as going against the principle of the National Assembly's independence and autonomy," Joo said.
At the plenary meeting, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun delivered an administrative speech to urge the swift passage of the bill on the 35.3 trillion won ($29.4 billion) third extra budget designed to respond to the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. The ruling party is aiming to pass the bill within this week.