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[Editorial] New floor leaders

Parties should establish a tradition of collaboration

The three major political parties have all picked their new floor leaders amid high expectations for a more productive National Assembly.

The three new whips have one thing in common: strong communication skills. Effective communication is essential to successful political negotiations, but it remains to be seen whether the new leaders would be able to handle knotty issues through dialogue and collaboration.

The Minjoo Party of Korea, the main opposition party, elected Rep. Woo Sang-ho as its new floor leader Wednesday. A former student activist-turned politician, Woo has served as party spokesman several times since entering politics in 2000, an indication of his ability to communicate with media outlets.

In a speech following his election win, Woo said he would lead negotiations with his counterparts from rival parties as the Minjoo Party has emerged as the No. 1 party by garnering 123 seats in the April general election.

To lead interparty negotiations, Woo needs to respect the positions of other parties and behave responsibly. He should remember that his party’s obstructionism was one of the main factors that made the 19th National Assembly unproductive.

The ruling party elected Chung Jin-suk, a three-term lawmaker, the new floor leader Tuesday. A journalist-turned politician, Chung has a broad network of acquaintances in the political circles.

The new floor leader faces daunting tasks, as the ruling party was relegated to the second-largest party with 122 seats. He needs to reform the conservative party from the ground up to regain the public’s confidence in it and establish a new tradition of collaboration with opposition parties.

In the first place, he needs to rebalance the party’s relations with the Blue House. If he allows the presidential office to continue to pull the strings of the party, he would not be able to secure the room for maneuver needed to reach compromises with opposition parties.

The minor opposition People’s Party picked Rep. Park Jie-won as its floor leader last week. The astute politician had already served as floor leader twice before joining the newly created party.

Park pledged to make the 20th National Assembly productive, hardworking and creative through cooperation with the Minjoo Party and, if necessary, with the Saenuri Party.

The three floor leaders will face their first major test soon, as they have to start negotiations to elect a new National Assembly speaker and form parliamentary committees.

They should wrap up the negotiations early to ensure that the new Assembly can promptly tackle the urgent legislative issues that have been left unaddressed by the outgoing Assembly.