Partisan tensions weigh on National Assembly over June extra session

By Yonhap
  • Published : Jun 18, 2019 - 14:09
  • Updated : Jun 18, 2019 - 14:09

Partisan tensions over the normalization of parliament lingered Tuesday as the main opposition party vowed to protest against its rival parties' joint decision to open an extra session for June without its participation.

The ruling Democratic Party and three minor parties jointly submitted a request to convene the June session Monday in an effort to handle an extra budget bill and other proposals on people's livelihoods.

The June session is scheduled to open Thursday following more than a two-month parliamentary impasse that was sparked by a row over the four parties' move to place key reform bills on the fast track despite strong opposition from the main opposition Liberty Korea Party.

Rep. Lee In-young (second from right), floor leader of the ruling Democratic Party, speaks at a meeting with floor party members on Tuesday at the National Assembly. (Yonhap)

In response to the opening of the extra session, the conservative LKP made it clear that it will not cooperate in the National Assembly's move to review the 6.7 trillion-won ($5.6 billion) supplementary budget bill.

The LKP has recently demanded the assembly hold parliamentary hearings on economic issues, claiming it wants to zero in on the failure of the government's economic policy before it starts to review the extra budget bill.

The ruling party rejected the LKP's request as "rude."

Monthslong negotiations broke down as both sides failed to narrow gaps over conditions for resuming the operation of parliament.

The DP plans to seek negotiations with the LKP to enable Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon to deliver a budget speech Thursday when the June session opens.

"If the LKP listens to the voice of the people, it should return to the National Assembly without conditions and join legislative efforts to pass key bills," DP floor leader Lee In-young said at a meeting with party members.

"We will start what we can do. We will begin to review the extra budget and other bills pending by opening permanent and special parliamentary committees," he added.

But without cooperation from the LKP, the smooth operation of the National Assembly is almost impossible. An LKP lawmaker currently assumes the chair of the special committee on budget reviews.

Na Kyung-won, floor leader of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, speaks at a meeting with party members on Tuesday at the National Assembly. (Yonhap)

"After (the DP) messed up the National Assembly with the fast-track row, the party is pressing for fiscal populism," LKP floor leader Na Kyung-won said at a meeting with party members.

The conservative party claims the budget is designed to create jobs to win over voters ahead of next April's parliamentary elections.

Prime Minister Lee called on the parliament to immediately kick off its review of the extra budget, citing growing downside economic risks.

"An extra budget should begin to be spent starting no later than in July," Lee said at the start of a Cabinet meeting. (Yonhap)