Opposition not sure of impeachment motion passage

By Yeo Jun-suk
  • Published : Nov 28, 2016 - 17:25
  • Updated : Nov 28, 2016 - 17:56

Opposition parties Monday put the final touches on the draft of the impeachment motion against President Park Geun-hye, but they are still unclear when it will be put to a vote.

It is a choice of between this Friday or next, but the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea emphasized prudence, as winning the overwhelming support of the parliament is more ideal than rushing to pass the motion. 

“I understand that the people are eager to pass the motion as quickly as possible, but the key is how much we are prepared for it,” said the party’s floor leader Rep. Woo Sang-ho.

“If we think we are prepared, we should go for Dec. 2. If not, we should choose Dec. 9.”

The comments came after People’s Party interim chief Park Jie-won said they have more than enough votes from the ruling Saenuri Party to ensure the motion’s passage.

Rep. Park said at least 60 Saenuri lawmakers would vote for the motion.

To remove President Park from office -- she won the election on the Saenuri ticket -- the envisioned motion must clear a two-third threshold at the 300-seat Assembly and nine-member Constitutional Court.

Opposition parties and independents combined control 172 lawmakers as of Monday, 28 votes shy of the required 200.

On Friday, a group of 40 Saenuri lawmakers -- who are critical of Park and her loyalists who dominate the party leadership -- said they would join the campaign to unseat Park, but opposition parties are still not sure whether all of them will vote as they have said in a secret ballot.

The Saenuri lawmakers who approve of the impeachment measure also said that while they would follow the timeline suggested by the opposition parties, they prefer a voting session on Dec. 9. The plenary session slated for Friday already has some key bills to pass, they said.

Topping the agenda for Friday’s session is next year’s budget bill which by law must pass the parliament no later than the day. Observers said that some lawmakers may be reluctant to pass both the impeachment motion and the budget bill at the same time. 

The impeachment motion, if passed, will lead to the country’s second presidential impeachment trial at the Constitutional Court.

Opposition lawmakers are trying to include as many impeachable offenses as possible in the draft, in order to provide enough legal grounds for the court to approve of Park’s removal.  Floor leaders of the three opposition groups decided Monday to come up with a final draft by Tuesday.

Constitutional law experts noted the parliamentary impeachment motion is the only point of reference for the top court to review the case, because the lawmakers cannot insert additional charges into the motion once it passes the legislative body.

“The court cannot base their decision on something that is not described in the Assembly’s impeachment motion,” said Kim Jong-cheol, a constitutional law professor at Yonsei University. “Describing impeachable charges in detail is the Assembly’s important obligation.”

But some worry that if they include too many charges in the motion, it might take longer for the court to deliberate.

According to prosecutors, Park is suspected of abusing her power by helping her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil extort money from conglomerates and giving her access to classified government documents.

By Yeo Jun-suk (