Ruling party to hold election to pick floor leader this week

SEOUL, The ruling Democratic Party (DP) plans to select its new floor leader this week, with three candidates running in the race amid a political stalemate over the latest decision to place key reform bills on a "fast track."

The election is slated for Wednesday to replace the incumbent floor leader Hong Youngpyo for a oneyear term.

Rep. Kim Taenyeon, former DP policy chief; Rep. Noh Woongrae; and Rep. Lee Inyoung have announced their bids. They are all threeterm lawmakers.

A new floor leader will face the task of backing up the liberal Moon Jaein government in its third year and helping navigate the party on a course to win the 2020 general elections.

An immediate challenge will lie in how to elicit cooperation from the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) amid a political impasse surrounding the fasttrack drive.

Last week, the DP and three minor parties fasttracked bills on election reform; the establishment of a special unit to investigate corruption by highranking public and government officials; and the enhancement of the police's authority.

In a strong protest against the fasttrack bid, the LKP has been staging rallies outside the National Assembly, branding it as what it calls the leftists' tyranny.

The DP is pressing the LKP to come back to the National Assembly, raising the urgency to handle key bills on the people's livelihood.

In particular, a 6.7 trillionwon (US$5.7 billion) extra budget bill is pending at parliament, with the government, which authored the bill, hoping for its passage in an extraordinary session in May.

The current April session is set to end Tuesday after lawmakers failed to even set the assembly schedule amid partisan tensions.

Source: Yonhap news Agency

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