UPDATE : 2018.9.23 SUN 21:17
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Ruling party proposes policy dialogue with two minor parties

The ruling Democratic Party (DP) on Friday proposed a policy dialogue body with two minor parties, as it strives to win their support in enacting its legislative goals, including retooling the tax code.

Woo Won-shik, the DP floor leader, made the proposal hours after his counterparts from the People's Party and Bareun Party announced their plan for policy cooperation amid growing speculation over their possible alliance.

The DP has been striving to court the parties, as the main opposition Liberty Korea Party is pushing to unite the fractured conservative bloc so as to better keep the ruling camp in check.

"I suggest forming a 'two-plus-two-plus-two' dialogue among the policy chiefs and deputy floor leaders of the three parties," Woo told a press conference. "I urge the opposition parties to help support the (stable) operation of the legislature with a responsible attitude."

Woo Won-shik (R), the floor leader of the ruling Democratic Party, speaks during a party meeting at the National Assembly in Seoul on Nov. 3, 2017. (Yonhap)

The ruling party has only 121 seats in the 299-member unicameral parliament, necessitating cooperation from opposition parties in passing bills to advance President Moon Jae-in's reform agenda, including overhauling powerful organs, such as the prosecution, long accused of political bias.

The center-left People's Party has 40 legislators, while the conservative Bareun Party has 20.

The two parties agreed to seek cooperation in handling a series of bills that they say are "urgent and supported by a majority of citizens." They include those aimed at building regulation-free zones and developing the service sector.

Key members of the parties initially explored the possibility of creating a middle-of-the-road political force through their merger, but they retreated amid resistance from some colleagues, who argue the parties can't work together due to different ideological roots.

Some members of the Bareun Party are inclined towards defecting to the main opposition party, putting the party on the verge of a major split.

Hwi Won  edt@koreapost.com

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