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Democratic Party going it alone sparks boycott from opposition

Seats remained empty as lawmakers from United Future Party refused to attend the first plenary session of the Legislation and Judiciary Standing Committee held at the National Assembly on Tuesday. (Yonhap)
Seats remained empty as lawmakers from United Future Party refused to attend the first plenary session of the Legislation and Judiciary Standing Committee held at the National Assembly on Tuesday. (Yonhap)






Partisan strife is back to cripple the newly minted National Assembly, following the ruling party’s push to go ahead with the appointment of a party member as the chief of a key parliamentary committee Monday.

The main opposition United Future Party boycotted all parliamentary sessions scheduled for Tuesday in protest against the Democratic Party of Korea’s decision to appoint all six standing committee chief positions endorsed at a plenary session a day earlier. Committee memberships were assigned to lawmakers by the assembly speaker in the absence of an agreement by parties.

The ruling party plans to complete forming the remaining 12 parliamentary committees by Friday.

Lawmakers from the United Future Party called it “unprecedented tyranny” against democracy, vowing an all-out campaign to stop the Democratic Party, which practically holds a supermajority in the unicameral parliament.

Some 45 lawmakers, assigned to the six committees by National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug, submitted their resignations, calling on him to cancel the chairmanships of the six standing committees.

Democratic Party spokesman Song Kap-seok urged the opposition party to “withdraw the sweeping boycott and join the Assembly committed to work hard.”

Stressing the urgency to deal with pressing issues such as a third supplementary budget bill designed to restore the livelihood of people affected by COVID-19 pandemic, the ruling party deployed the go-it-alone approach.

After failing to make a breakthrough in talks with the opposition party on how to structure the committees, the ruling party has pressed the conservative group to cooperate to get the new Assembly to work.

“The United Future Party should embrace the world that has been transformed through the general elections and COVID-19 pandemic and has to adapt to the changes,” Democratic Party Floor Leader Kim Tae-nyeon said

Since the new term started on May 30, the National Assembly has been at a standstill, as the rival parties had contended on obtaining the chairmanship of the Legislation and Judiciary Standing Committee, which has substantial gatekeeping power over judiciary administration-related bills and in examining legality and terminology of bills passed by other committees. In the Monday vote, four-term lawmaker Rep. Yun Ho-jung was elected as chairman of the judiciary committee.

By Park Han-na (hnpark@heraldcorp.com)
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