Ruling, minor parties press main opposition to decide on parliamentary normalization

SEOUL, The ruling party and a minor party said Monday they will hold respective meetings to decide whether to submit a request to open an extra session for June to put an idle parliament back on track.

The move is aimed at pressing the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) to join a push to end a two-month parliamentary impasse as rival parties have so far failed to reach a deal to normalize the operation of the National Assembly.

The minor opposition Bareunmirae Party (BP) said it will convene a meeting of its lawmakers later in the day to approve whether to make a request to open the June session, citing the need to handle an extra budget bill and other legislation on people's livelihoods.

"As we have promised, we will launch a process to open an extra session in June," BP floor leader Oh Shin-hwan told a party meeting with senior members.

The BP has been working as a broker between the ruling Democratic Party (DP) and the main opposition LKP on a deal to normalize the assembly's operation. The three parties held talks Sunday but failed to narrow gaps over the LKP's demand to hold parliamentary hearings on economic issues.

Previously, one of the main contentious issues was how to handle key political and judiciary reform bills that were placed on the fast track in late April despite strong opposition from the LKP.

The three parties have almost agreed to handle those bills in a consensus in their proposed joint statement.

But the LKP has recently added its demand to hold hearings, claiming it wants to zero in on the failure of the government's economic policy before it starts to review a 6.7 trillion-won (US$5.6 billion) extra budget bill. The ruling DP rejected the KLP's request as "rude."

The DP said it cannot let the parliament be idle any longer, adding Monday will be a deadline for the LKP in deciding whether to open the June session.

The ruling party plans to hold a meeting with its lawmakers in the afternoon to approve whether to make a request for the parliamentary normalization.

Submitting a request to convene an extra session needs signatures from at least a quarter of 298 sitting lawmakers. The DP holds 128 posts, followed by the LKP with 112 and the BP with 28.

"We will wait for a miracle today. As to whether to open the assembly, the LKP should find its own answer," DP floor leader Lee In-young told a party meeting with senior members.

If the National Assembly resumes its operation without the participation of the LKP, it remains uncertain whether an extra budget bill can be passed.

Source: Yonhap news Agency

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