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Parliament starts debate on constitutional revision

All News 11:33 January 05, 2017

By Kang Yoon-seung

SEOUL, Jan. 5 (Yonhap) -- Lawmakers kicked off the debate to rewrite the Constitution Thursday amid growing consensus to limit excessive presidential powers acutely brought home to South Koreans by a recent scandal involving President Park Geun-hye.

A bipartisan parliamentary committee on the amendment held its first meeting, electing Rep. Lee Ju-young of the ruling Saenuri Party to chair the 36-member panel.

"The Constitution was last revised in 1987 reflecting the people's aspiration for democracy," Lee said during the meeting. "While it played a key role in improving people's rights and demolishing authoritarianism, it no longer suits us as politics, the economy and society have changed over the past 30 years at home and abroad."

The committee will review different proposals to change the current single, five-year presidency, including a four-year, two-term presidential system, a parliamentary government system, and a division of powers between the president and parliament-appointed prime minister.

Another key issue is the timing of the revision. Politicians are divided over whether it should happen before or after the next presidential election, which may take place earlier than expected amid the impeachment of Park. The next election is currently scheduled for December.

Lee said he will make efforts to revise the Constitution before the election. If the revision is not complete before the vote, it is likely to emerge as a key campaign agenda.


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