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 Young-pyo for a one-year term.
Rep. Kim Tae-nyeon, former DP policy chief; Rep. Noh Woong-rae; and Rep. Lee In-young have announced their bids. They are all three-term lawmakers.
A new floor leader will face the task of backing up the liberal Moon Jae-in 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 fast-track drive.
Last week, the DP and three minor parties fast-tracked bills on election reform; the establishment of a special unit to investigate corruption by high-ranking public and government officials; and the enhancement of the police's authority.
In a strong protest against the fast-track 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 trillion-won (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.(Yonhap)