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(EDITORIAL from The Korea Herald on Aug. 31)

All Headlines 07:01 August 31, 2016

No more gridlock
Parties should cooperate in handling bills

The 20th National Assembly is to open its first 100-day regular session Thursday.

Before the session opens, it seems appropriate to remind legislators of the message that Korean voters delivered to political parties through the April general election.

The election replaced a two-party system that caused frequent disruptions of the National Assembly with a three-party system in which no single party controls a majority of parliamentary seats.

The unmistakable message was that political parties should move away from dysfunctional confrontational politics toward collaborative politics that would help the Assembly operate more productively.

During the extraordinary session in August, parties failed to live up to their postelection pledges that they would cooperate in handling state affairs.

In the regular session, the three major parties should not let the old politics of confrontation paralyze the Assembly. Korea can hardly afford more political gridlock.

The newly elected leaders of the ruling Saenuri Party and the main opposition The Minjoo Party of Korea should take particular care to ensure that the Assembly session proceeds smoothly, as lawmakers face a daunting legislative agenda.

How the Assembly session will proceed depends much on Choo Mi-ae, a fifth-term female lawmaker who was elected to lead the Minjoo Party on Sunday.

Choo's election was seen as signaling a leftward shift in the party's policy stance. Yet she showed flexibility after her election. For instance, in the run-up to the election, she vowed to change the party's neutral stance on the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system in Korea to an unequivocal "No." Yet she said Monday she would respect the consensus view of party members on the issue.

Choo also needs to show flexibility on legislative issues. As the Korean economy faces formidable challenges, lawmakers should not delay the passage of bills intended to revitalize the economy and improve the livelihood of people.

Although the regular session runs for 100 days, lawmakers actually do not have much time to deliberate on these bills as they have to spend time on hearings, inspection of the administration and examination of the government's budget bill for 2017.

For the government and the ruling party, the coming session is of vital importance as it is virtually the last chance for them to enact the pending reform bills pushed by President Park Geun-hye.

The Minjoo Party is also pushing for a long list of bills aimed at promoting economic democratization.

The leaders of the two parties should operate the Assembly in cooperation to ensure that their lawmakers can carry out their legislative duty.

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