South Korea's constitutional revision may exclude state authority reform

By Jennie Oh   |   April 8, 2018 at 1:21 AM
A photo of South Korea's National Assembly. Photo by Yonhap.

SEOUL, April 8 (UPI) -- South Korean president Moon Jae-in's office has suggested holding a referendum on a partial revision of the constitution in June, and working on contentious points for the next parliamentary election.

A senior presidential official told Yonhap news Sunday that if lawmakers cannot reach an agreement on country's power structure in time for a referendum alongside the June local elections, then the issue could be taken to the 2020 general elections.

This comes amid a strong bipartisan divide over the reform of state authority, in a bid to break down the concentration of power on the president.

The ruling Democratic Party has been pushing for the government-drafted revision bill, which was prepared under Moon's orders. It proposes reducing the presidential term from the current single five-year stint in office to four years with a chance of one relection.

However, opposition forces argue this would do little to prevent abuse of power by the head of state.

The Liberty Korea Party proposed an alternative plan, under which the president's actual powers would be significantly reduced.

The prime minister would take on more administrative affairs and also be appointed by the National Assembly, not the president.

The presidential official told Yonhap that a revision to the current presidential term may be scrapped for the current amendment proposal, if there the ruling and opposition camps cannot resolve their differences on the matter.

The LKP has also insisted on holding a referendum on a constitutional revision in September, instead of June.

Without the LKP's cooperation, the DP does not have a chance of pushing through a motion to amend the Constitution in time for the June 13 election, as a bill to amend the document requires two-thirds of the 293-seat National Assembly's vote.

The LKP currently has 116 seats in parliament while the DP has 121 seats.

The centrist opposition Bareunmirae Party; and minor liberal Justice Party, together with the Party for Democracy and Peace, plan on submitting their own plans on constitutional amendment, Joongdo Ilbo reported.

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