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Ruling, opposition collide over which party will get parliamentary speaker

All News 11:32 June 01, 2016

SEOUL, June 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's ruling and opposition parties have locked horns over which side will get the National Assembly speaker post, which could hold up the actual opening of the new parliament, political observers said Wednesday.

"It has been tradition for the ruling party to nominate the National Assembly speaker," Rep. Chung Jin-suk, the floor leader of the Saenuri Party said.

April's election results are fueling confusion over which party should take the speaker's chair, which is traditionally taken by the ruling party and largest player in the parliament.

The Saenuri Party failed to become the largest player despite its ruling party status, with its seats falling one shy of that held by the major opposition Minjoo Party of Korea. But it claims, citing past precedence, that the ruling party should still be given priority.

"It is only the Minjoo's opinion that it should take the National Assembly speaker seat just by having one more lawmaker," Chung added.

Others in Saenuri said that while it is not written policy, the ruling party has almost always taken the speaker's position unless the opposition held an overwhelming majority.

Although a National Assembly speaker must secede from the party upon appointment, the ruling and opposition have been wrangling over the top seat in parliament. The Minjoo demands it should take the position as it is currently the biggest player in the National Assembly.

Woo Sang-ho, the floor leader of the Minjoo Party, said it cannot conduct "normal negotiation" due to the ruling party's stance.

The Minjoo Party became No. 1 at the 20th National Assembly with 123 lawmakers, although it could become the No. 2 at anytime if independents join the ruling Saenuri Party, which holds 122 seats.

Chung, however, said such factors are not matters of concern for the formation of parliamentary committees, which also must be negotiated alongside the positions of speaker and the two vice speakers. In particular, the parties are vying to seat their lawmakers as chairs of the powerful steering, legislation and judiciary committees as well as the special committee on budget and accounts.

colin@yna.co.kr
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