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(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on May 16)

The majority Democratic Party (DP) on Thursday elects its candidate for the speaker of the first half of the next National Assembly. But lawmaker-elect Choo Mi-ae and Rep. Woo Won-shik, both from the DP, are determined to push for a Constitutional amendment in the upcoming 22nd legislature to ensure two four-year terms for the president and restrict presidents from exercising their veto power. Choo, a six-term lawmaker and former DP leader, repeatedly mentioned the need to limit the president's rights to veto bills related to conflicts of interest for presidents and their families or aides. Rep. Woo, a former DP floor leader, vowed to lead a crusade to allow the second term for the president, bring the Board of Audit and Inspection back to the National Assembly, and empower the legislature. Whoever becomes the next speaker of the parliament will focus on amending the Constitution. The DP prepares to set up a special committee on constitutional amendment after the new Assembly opens on May 30. In a press con ference on Monday, Rep. Yun Ho-jung, a former floor leader of the party, stressed the need to get rid of presidents' party memberships to "institutionalize a healthy relationship between the government and the National Assembly" and "embody the spirit of the Constitution in politics and national governance," along with "restricting presidents' unfettered abuse of power." Looking back, constitutional amendment was the buzzword whenever a new National Assembly opened, since the adoption of the direct presidential election system in 1987. But the legislature has made no progress on the discussion. Many people agree on making an amendment as the current constitution was adopted nearly four decades ago. The problem is the opposition's push for an amendment for its political gains. For instance, the DP and the Rebuilding Korea Party led by former Justice Minister Cho Kuk have started talking about lowering the threshold for presidential impeachment to 180 seats from the current 200 seats in the 300-member legisla ture. They even propose to hold the next presidential election as early as December 2025 - instead of March 2027 - by advancing the two-term presidency. Given the opposition's combined 192 seats, it can pass the amendment if it draws just eight votes from the governing party. But such a calculation shows the arrogance of the majority party. The opposition's argument to cut President Yoon Suk Yeol's five-year term can violate the Constitution. Choo's demand to restrict the scope of a presidential veto is politically motivated. Discussions on an amendment demands a farsighted approach. Otherwise, it cannot draw a national consensus. Source: Yonhap News Agency

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