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(3rd LD) Five-term DP lawmaker Kim Jin-pyo elected new National Assembly speaker

Politics 16:20 July 04, 2022

(ATTN: CHANGES photos; ADDS more info in paras 2-4, 12)
By Joo Kyung-don

SEOUL, July 4 (Yonhap) -- The rival parties voted Monday to elect Rep. Kim Jin-pyo of the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) as new National Assembly speaker after the two sides reached a breakthrough compromise to put the parliament into operation after more than a month of idling.

Kim, a five-term lawmaker, will lead the second half of the 21st National Assembly until May 2024. Two vice speakers, Rep. Kim Young-joo of the DP and Rep. Chung Jin-suk of the ruling People Power Party (PPP), were also elected.

In his acceptance speech, Kim called on the parties to speed up negotiations and finalize the parliamentary committee formations, emphasizing the urgency to stabilize people's livelihoods amid rising economic woes.

"The situation is too desperate to leave the issue to the government alone," he said. "To swiftly respond to the economic crisis on the people's livelihoods, let's create a special parliamentary committee on the matter."

His election came after the DP accepted a proposal from the ruling PPP that it would cooperate for the election of the parliamentary speaker and vice speakers on condition the DP promises to select parliamentary committee chiefs based on agreement between the two sides.

Rep. Kim Jin-pyo speaks after being elected as the new National Assembly speaker at a plenary session at the National Assembly in Seoul on July 4, 2022. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

The PPP's floor leader, Rep. Kweon Seong-dong, made the proposal just hours before the DP, which holds 170 out of 299 seats in the National Assembly, planned to unilaterally convene a plenary session to select the speakers on its own.

"We offered a broad-minded concession, because normalizing the National Assembly is in the interest of the people, and the ruling and opposition parties need to put their heads together to address difficult livelihood issues," Kweon told reporters.

In South Korea, it has been customary for the largest party in terms of parliamentary seats to take the speaker position.

Ruling People Power Party floor leader Kweon Seong-dong (2nd from R) shakes hands with main opposition Democratic Party floor leader Park Hong-geun (R) while greeting Rep. Kim Jin-pyo, who was elected the parliamentary speaker, at the National Assembly in Seoul on July 4, 2022. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

The impasse in committee formation negotiations has left the Assembly idling for a month, forcing a halt in legislation and Cabinet member confirmation hearings.

Earlier, the DP has offered to hand over the chairmanship of the judiciary committee, a key Assembly panel that has the power to approve bills before they are put to a plenary vote, to the PPP in exchange for the PPP's cooperation for the launch of a special committee on judiciary reform.

But the PPP has rejected the proposal, because the special committee is aimed at completing the process of reducing and ultimately abolishing the prosecution's investigative powers in accordance with recently enacted prosecution reform laws, which the ruling bloc has opposed.

kdon@yna.co.kr
(END)

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