The leaders of rival parties failed to narrow their differences Tuesday, raising concerns that the ruling party may go ahead and process next year’s government budget by itself.
The chairmen and floor leaders of the ruling Saenuri Party and the opposition Democratic Party met for a second day in a last-minute effort to break the parliamentary gridlock mainly linked to the National Intelligence Service’s alleged role in last year’s presidential election.
The talks, however, ended without any significant progress.
“Firstly, the gap in the two parties’ positions on the special counsel and special committee remains (unchanged),” the two parties’ spokesmen said in a joint press conference.
“Secondly, there were significant differences in (the parties’) positions on selecting the reform committee chief, giving it legislative authority, and reform plans and the degree (to which measures will be implemented.)”
The DP has been calling for a special counsel investigation into the NIS’ alleged election meddling, and for the establishment of a special parliamentary committee for overseeing the reform of the spy agency.
While the ruling party has agreed to launch a special committee, it has remained firmly against a special counsel investigation, saying that related issues were already within the scope of the prosecution’s probe.
The matter of the special committee, however, has not been trouble free, with the two parties disagreeing over the details of its operations.
Their negotiations began Monday after Saenuri Party chairman Rep. Hwang Woo-yea requested that the two sides meet without preconditions in an effort to end the DP’s parliamentary boycott.
The main opposition has been staging its boycott since Friday in protest of Saenuri Party unilaterally approving Hwang Chan-hyon’s nomination as the new chief of the Board of Audit and Inspection.
While there have been no immediate results, Saenuri Party floor leader Rep. Choi Kyung-hwan indicated after the meeting that negotiations will continue.
“Much progress was made (compared to Monday). The talks have not fallen apart,” Choi said.
However, with Monday’s meeting said to have been closer to a shouting match than negotiations, the outcome of the last-minute efforts to normalize the National Assembly remains unclear.
“Even if I have to quit, I, Kim Han-gil, am ready. Let’s see who falls down first,” the Democratic Party chairman was quoted as saying at Monday’s meeting by his aides.
In staging the party’s boycott, Kim declared that he will put his post as the chairman on the line in bringing its fight against the ruling party to an end.
With the talks progressing slowly, the ruling party appears likely to go ahead with processing the budget plans unilaterally.
Following the meeting, Saenuri Party deputy floor leader Rep. Yoon Sang-hyun hinted that his party may follow through with the measure. The ruling party had planned to process the budget unilaterally on Monday, but the plans were put on hold after the DP agreed to hold the meeting.
“(The talks) did not produce an agreement, but the budget must be processed by any means,” Yoon said, responding to questions on whether the budget will be processed Wednesday.
By Choi He-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org