Rival parties agree to normalize parliament after prolonged standoff

By Yonhap
  • Published : May 14, 2018 - 15:19
  • Updated : May 14, 2018 - 20:57

The ruling and opposition parties agreed Monday to normalize parliament in a dramatic deal that ended more than 40 days of legislative impasse over a set of disputed bills and partisan issues.

Their floor leaders reached an agreement to handle a bill to open an independent counsel probe into an online opinion rigging scandal and another for the government's proposed supplementary budget at a parliamentary plenary session slated for Friday.

Members of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party hold a meeting in front of the entrance to the main National Assembly hall on May 14, 2018. Floor leader Rep. Kim Sung-tae (center) demands a special counsel probe into the online opinion rigging scandal. (Yonhap)

The rival parties had wrangled over the bills and other issues, crippling parliamentary proceedings since early April.

Earlier in the day, the parties failed to craft a compromise, raising the fears of a prolonged standoff among them.

After the cross-party deal, the parliament convened a plenary session to accept the resignations of four lawmakers running in June's local elections so that by-elections will be held at the same time next month.

Before the deal, the main opposition Liberty Korea Party vowed to derail the session, pressuring the ruling Democratic Party to agree to a special investigation into allegations that a blogger with ties to a DP lawmaker manipulated Internet comments.

The two parties had been wide apart, mainly on the scope of a special investigation.

Monday was the deadline for accepting the lawmakers' resignations so as to enable by-elections to be held in June. Otherwise, the by-elections will be put off at least until April next year, leaving people in the four constituencies without representation for nearly a year.

The ruling party apparently believes it's better to hold by-elections now, when its popularity is running high, than to hold them next year.

But the LKP argued an independent counsel probe is as important as the by-elections. Its lawmakers had blocked the entrance to the main Assembly hall to prevent their ruling party counterparts from unilaterally holding a plenary meeting.

The LKP has doggedly pursued the independent probe, while its critics argue the LKP's call for the probe is a political offensive meant to undermine the ruling bloc and gain political high ground ahead of the local elections. (Yonhap)