President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol greets People`s Party Chairman Ahn Cheol-soo at People Power Party`s situation room inside the National Assembly in Yeouido, western Seoul, on early Thursday morning. The two merged their candidacies in the 20th presidential election to help Yoon prevail by the end of the election. Ahn is widely touted as a pick to head Yoon`s Presidential Transition Committee. (Joint Press Corps)
With Yoon Suk-yeol of the conservative People Power Party elected as the next president of South Korea, attention is turning to who will make up his transition committee.
People’s Party Chairman Ahn Cheol-soo, who dropped out of the presidential race in support of Yoon, has been mentioned as a likely figure to head the committee, which is expected to be launched earlier than usual.
The committee will be tasked with helping Yoon get to work immediately upon his inauguration on May 10, and smoothing the transition of power from President Moon Jae-in to his successor.
Moon’s own inauguration happened almost immediately after his election, as his predecessor had been ousted during an impeachment process, so this will be South Korea’s first presidential transition committee in nine years.
According to the Presidential Transition Act, the presidential transition committee comprises one chairperson, one vice chairperson and up to 24 committee members, and Yoon, as the president-elect, will be in charge of choosing who will fill those positions.
The committee can continue running for 30 days after the new president takes office.
The chairperson is tasked with assisting the president-elect and assume overarching control of the transition process, meaning a figure who clearly understands the philosophies and visions behind the president-elect should be appointed to start drawing a road map for a new five-year administration.
Former President Roh Moo-hyun appointed former National Assembly Speaker Lim Chae-jung to lead his transition committee before inauguration, and Lee Kyoung-sook, former president of Sookmyung Women’s University, was named to serve as the chairperson for the presidential power transition committee of Roh’s successor Lee Myung-bak.
Former Constitutional Court chief Kim Yong-joon was appointed to handle the power transition for impeached President Park Geun-hye before she took office.
Even though it is customary for a new committee to launch around 15 days after the new president is elected, Yoon is believed to immediately embark on the process to discuss ways to adjust anti-virus rules and respond to difficulties stemming from the Ukraine-Russia conflict.
Many have speculated that Ahn Cheol-soo, who dropped out of the presidential race to unite his candidacy with Yoon, will head Yoon’s presidential transition committee as the chairperson, as it is in the interest of the People Power Party to publicly show its will to form a coalition government upon Yoon’s inauguration.
Rep. Chang Je-won of the People Power Party, one of the key figures behind the successful candidacy merger between Yoon and Ahn, has been picked to serve as the chief of staff for Yoon during his time as the president-elect.
Yet Yoon told reporters Thursday that he has not made any final decisions on forming the presidential transition committee, saying he has not had enough time to think on the formation and picks just yet but will start discussions on the matter in coming days.
The president-elect pledged while announcing the candidacy merger with Ahn earlier this month that the two will work together to form a coalition government, and appointing Ahn to head the transition committee would be a symbolic way of showing Yoon’s will to follow up on his pledge immediately.
Some have speculated that Ahn will be named as the first prime minister under the Yoon administration after leading the transition committee until Yoon’s inauguration.
The presidential transition committee for Yoon is believed to focus on bringing bureaucratic reforms Yoon promised to bring during the presidential race, one of which involves giving up the land space of Cheong Wa Dae and installing a new presidential office inside the Seoul Government Complex.
Yoon also pledged to abolish the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family while reducing the power of presidency, both of which would require large-scale adjustments to the structure of the government.
By Ko Jun-tae (firstname.lastname@example.org