Acrimony grows in parliament after rejection of court chief nominee

By Yonhap
  • Published : Sept 12, 2017 - 11:43
  • Updated : Sept 12, 2017 - 11:43
A sense of acrimony hung over parliament Tuesday as the ruling party smarted from an unexpected parliamentary defeat a day earlier, with opposition parties upping their offensive against it.

The Democratic Party failed Monday to secure parliamentary approval for President Moon Jae-in's pick for the Constitutional Court chief -- a mishap its rivals blamed for its lack of efforts to build cooperative ties with the opposition bloc that leads the National Assembly.

The rejection of the nominee, Kim Yi-su, came amid conservative parties' objections over his 1980 ruling against a pro-democracy activist and his minority opinion on the 2014 disbandment of a far-left party with members accused of pro-North Korean activities.
Woo Won-shik, the floor leader of the ruling Democratic Party, attends a meeting with senior party officials at the National Assembly in Seoul on Sept. 12, 2017. (Yonhap)

DP floor leader Woo Won-shik made a veiled criticism of the opposition parties, underscoring that parliamentary disapproval was out of sync with the public sentiment.

"We witnessed the reality of the Assembly that is far off from the public sentiment.... We are now entrusted with the task of making a legislature that is in line with public opinion," Woo said during a meeting with senior party officials.

The whip then apologized to citizens, acknowledging his party was dwarfed by the bigger legislative presence of the opposition parties. The ruling party holds only 120 seats in the 299-member parliament, necessitating cooperation for the passage of any contested bills.

"I confess that we lacked power," Woo said. "But I and the Democratic Party would not be frustrated or discouraged as we move forward to follow people's will."

After the legislature voted down the confirmation motion for Kim, the ruling party, along with the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, vented anger and frustration, arguing the opposition bloc acted "irresponsibly and high-handedly."

But such accusations triggered counterattacks.

"It is an extreme case of one in the wrong shifting the blame to the other," Chung Woo-taik, the floor leader of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, said during a meeting with senior party members.

"I am convinced that the parliamentary rejection this time has laid the groundwork for the opposition parties' efforts to keep the Moon Jae-in government in check," Chung added, accusing the ruling camp of "arrogance and self-righteousness" and calling for its "humility."

The minor opposition People's Party also joined in on the criticism of the ruling bloc, calling for it to focus on setting the mood for cooperation with opposition parties.

"I believe that (the rejection of the nominee) is a call for the government, which now has screws loose, to be more scrupulous and strengthen cooperation with opposition parties," Park Jie-won, the party's former leader, said in a media interview. (Yonhap)