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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on May 12)

Editorials from Korean dailies 07:04 May 12, 2022

Move toward bipartisanship
Rival parties should work for national unity

The majority Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) has turned into an opposition party since President Yoon Suk-yeol took office Tuesday. Still, the DPK remains formidable at the 300-member National Assembly as it holds 168 seats. This poses a grave challenge for Yoon who is already beleaguered by difficulties arising from an unprecedented low approval rating of below 50 percent coupled with his victory by an extremely narrow margin of 0.73 percentage point in the March 9 election.

Disappointingly, the Yoon administration got off to a rocky start with no prime minister because the DPK has refused to approve Yoon's nomination of Han Duck-soo as the country's No. 2 official. The DPK has so far adopted hearing reports on only seven of the 19 ministerial nominees, making it difficult for the new president to handle state affairs properly. Yoon has appointed seven ministers, including Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho, due to the majority party's intransigence.

The Yoon administration is faced with a set of daunting challenges domestically and globally. Wary of runaway inflation, for instance, Yoon has instructed his senior secretaries to take steps to curb consumer prices during their first meeting at the new presidential office in Yongsan on Wednesday.

The current political deadlock could lead to a crisis or at least make the new government unable to deal with urgent issues such as growing military threats from North Korea, destabilizing financial markets and growing fears of stagflation. So it is necessary for the DPK and other opposition parties to cooperate with the Yoon administration and the ruling People Power Party (PPP) in coping with difficulties. The DPK needs to refrain from playing politics and flexing its muscle as the majority party. It is desirable for the DPK to narrow their differences with the PPP to help the Yoon government form its full Cabinet with no further delay.

Of course, it is right for the DPK, as the main opposition party, to play its given role of checking the government on behalf of the people. Yet it is necessary for the DPK to faithfully fulfill its responsibility. The party should not try to block the new administration from properly carrying out its policies designed to rebuild the nation. Such sabotage practices will only undermine the function of the new government and deal severe blows to the lives of the people.

The DPK has been taking flak for railroading two controversial bills to strip the prosecution of its investigative powers despite strong opposition from the PPP and the public. The DPK should humbly learn a lesson from its defeat in the presidential election. The people may turn their back again on the DPK if it fails to use its parliamentary power to raise the people's living standard and steer the country in the right direction.

Now the DPK should move toward national unity and "cooperative politics," instead of inciting partisan struggles and political confrontations. The Yoon administration and the PPP, for their part, need to reach out to the opposition and make their utmost efforts to forge bipartisanship. Otherwise, the country's politics cannot bring hopes and visions for the future.
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