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Lawmakers set to convene over constitutional revision

All Headlines 09:29 May 24, 2018

SEOUL, May 24 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's parliament is set to convene a plenary session Thursday to deal with a government-proposed constitutional revision, but opposition parties' have threatened to boycott the session and scuttle the bill, which they claim lacks a consensus among lawmakers.

The National Assembly session is scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. to review and vote on the constitutional revision motion proposed by President Moon Jae-in in March.

The proposal calls for changing the current five-year single-term presidency to a four-year presidency renewable once.

Thursday is a deadline for parliament to vote on the bill. If the deadline is not met, it will be effectively nullified. The Constitution requires lawmakers to vote on a constitutional revision bill within 60 days of it put being on a public notice.

This image, captured from footage of Yonhap News TV, shows the number of each political party's seats in the 288-member parliament. (Yonahp)

Changing the power structure in South Korea is the main point of the constitutional revision. There are calls to revise the current presidential system as too much power is concentrated in the hands of the president. The Constitution was last amended in 1987.

But the outlook for parliamentary passage is quite murky as opposition parties have threatened to boycott the session, calling on Moon to withdraw the motion.

They claimed that the government-sponsored motion was pushed for without adequate consultation with parliament.

For approval, yes votes of more than two thirds of incumbent lawmakers are required. In the 288-member parliament, the ruling Democratic Party (DP) holds 118 seats, which is insufficient for a quorum for a vote.

The ruling party has urged opposition parties to attend the session, citing lawmakers' duty under the Constitution.

"A parliamentary speaker convenes a plenary session under the Constitution. If opposition lawmakers refuse to attend and vote, the move undermines constitutional values," Hong Young-pyo, the floor leader of the DP said Wednesday.

If the voting cannot be held due to lack of a quorum, partisan wrangling is expected to deepen just days after the National Assembly passed key bills Monday following a parliamentary impasse of around 50 days.

The parliament approved a 3.83 trillion won (US$3.54 billion) extra budget bill and a proposal to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate an online opinion rigging scandal involving a former ruling party lawmaker.

The scandal centers on allegations that Kim Kyoung-soo, a former DP lawmaker who has close ties to Moon, knew and communicated with a power blogger, known by his nickname Druking, who rigged online comments on news stories with his team to sway public opinion.


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