Parties in talks to form parliamentary standing committees

SEOUL, South Korea's political parties held last-minute negotiations Monday to form parliamentary standing committees as they seek to put an idle National Assembly back on track.

The floor leaders of the ruling Democratic Party (DP) and opposition parties met at 10:30 a.m. to complete talks over how to form the 18 committees that will operate in the second half of the 20th National Assembly's four-year term.

They agreed last Friday to wrap up the negotiations by Monday and open a plenary session Thursday, but it is not certain whether they will be able to reach a final agreement due to divided opinions about the allocations of some key committees.

The rival parties started consultations in late June even though the former speaker's two-year term ended in May. Opposition parties have also been grappling with their resounding defeat in the June 13 local elections.

They shared the view that the DP will take the post of a new speaker while those of two vice speakers will go to the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) and the minor opposition Bareunmirae Party (BP), respectively.

The ruling party will likely also chair eight committees while the LKP will hold the chairmanship of seven committees and the BP will head two panels. One committee would go to a joint floor negotiation bloc of two minor parties.

A key point of contention is who will lead the Legislation and Judiciary Committee, a key panel on the passage of bills.

In South Korea's unicameral parliament, the judiciary committee is playing the role of the Upper House or Senate as it reviews bills before they are sent to a plenary session for approval.

Both the DP and the LKP want the chair of the judiciary committee, but there is a possibility that the main opposition party is likely to be in charge of that panel, given the practice.

Instead, the DP is expected to lead the House Steering Committee, in line with the tradition of allowing the ruling party's floor leader to take the post. It is a key committee that handles parliament's overall operations and oversees the presidential office.

Currently, the LKP holds the post of the chief of the steering committee as the Saenuri Party, the LKP's predecessor, was the ruling party back in 2016, when the committee formation was decided.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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