President Moon Jae-in and the floor leaders of five political parties met at the presidential office on Thursday and reached an agreement on establishing the consultative body, among other agreements.
The floor leaders are Rep. Hong Young-pyo of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea; Rep. Kim Sung-tae of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party; Rep. Kim Kwan-young of the center-right opposition Bareunmirae Party; Chang Byoung-wan of center-left Party for Democracy and Peace; and Rep. Youn So-ha of the progressive minor opposition Justice Party.
After the meeting, the spokespersons of the parties announced the written agreement, which stated that the consultative meeting with the president will be held quarterly. If necessary, more meetings could take place upon agreement of the parties, it added.
Moon raised the idea of such an entity when he and the floor leaders of the five political parties met in May 2017, the first such meeting after Moon’s inauguration last year.
The plan had lost steam, however, after the main opposition Liberty Korea Party pulled out, claiming the presidential office had “unilaterally wielded its authority” in nominating Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon.
If everything proceeds as planned, it would be the first policy consultative body of the government and political parties, including the non-negotiating bodies at the parliament -- Party for Democracy and Peace and Justice Party -- in Korean history.
In Thursday’s announcement, the floor leaders of the five political parties also agreed to pass bills related to the economy and livelihoods of the people in the August provisional session of the National Assembly, which kicked off Wednesday.
Moon also raised the issue of reforming the country’s election system.
“As a president, I personally strongly support reforming the election system (into one) that can guarantee parties (properly gain parliamentary seats) proportionally and properly represent the voters,” Moon said.
The Party for Democracy and Peace and Bareunmirae Party have been demanding a revision of the election system, which they argue is a hurdle for minor parties in getting their voices heard at the National Assembly.
South Korea has a single-member electorate system, in which voters pick one leader for a single district.
By Jo He-rim (firstname.lastname@example.org)