NATIONAL

[Newsmaker] Ruling party announces constitutional revision plan

By Jo He-rim
  • Published : Feb 2, 2018 - 18:18
  • Updated : Feb 2, 2018 - 18:21
The ruling Democratic Party of Korea came up with a plan for the revision of the Constitution on Friday, which includes changing the current single five-year presidency and naming popular uprisings in the preface to the Constitution.

On the second day of the party’s discussion on how to revise the Constitution, the party’s Floor Leader Rep. Woo Won-shik said they have decided to promote a change in the presidential system but maintain it as well. While there were many who favored a four-year two-term presidency, they said they did not specify the system in the plan so as to open the way for possible negotiations with other parties. 

Chairwoman Rep. Choo Mi-ae of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (left) and floor leader Rep. Woo Won-shik (Yonhap)

Regarding the country’s election system, Rep. Woo said the party would make efforts to revise the law to strengthen the proportional representative system in voting.

The party’s lawmakers will further discuss introducing a bicameral system and government right to table motions.

During the first day of the debate on revision of the Constitution on Thursday, the lawmakers agreed on the major revision points, including inserting the names of popular uprisings, such as the 1980 pro-democracy movement in the city of Gwangju and the 2016 candlelight rallies, in the Constitution’s preface.

Their revision plan also contains other details, such as guaranteeing three basic labor rights for civil servants and specifying the state’s responsibility to curb real estate speculation. It also seeks to lower the eligible voting age by a year to 18.

While all parties agree on the need for an amendment to the Constitution that was last revised in 1987, they differ on the details.

President Moon Jae-in and the ruling party seek to hold a referendum on the constitutional revision in tandem with the upcoming local election on June 13.

For the plan to work as scheduled, the parliament should reach a consensus before the end of February and propose an amendment bill in March.

The main opposition Liberty Korea Party disagrees with the proposed date for the referendum, saying it is too soon and would lead to hasty decisions. It also expressed concerns that it runs the risk of politicizing the basic law, and criticized the ruling party and the government for unilaterally pushing through with a reform plan.

The conservative opposition is also expected to come up with a revision proposal this month.

A constitutional revision requires the approval of two-thirds of the 299 lawmakers in the unicameral parliament and a majority of voters in a referendum. The ruling party, which has only 121 seats, needs the main opposition’s cooperation for the passage of any revision bill.

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)