National Assembly Finds Enough Votes to Impeach President Park
SEOUL, Nov. 25 (Yonhap) -- At least 40 lawmakers from South Korea's ruling Saenuri Party support the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye for her influence-peddling scandal, a group of party members opposing Park said Friday.
Opposition parties currently plan to put the impeachment motion up for vote in early December. Given that all opposition and independent lawmakers back the motion, its passage needs support from at least 28 Saenuri lawmakers to meet the minimum requirement of 200 votes out of the 300-seat National Assembly.
Rep. Hwang Young-cheul, spokesman of the emergency council of Park opponents, said the estimate is based on a survey of lawmakers participating in the group. He added the number of supporters may be higher if other lawmakers are counted.
Later in the day, floor leader Chung Jin-suk, however, made it clear the party cannot agree to the opposition parties' plan to pass the impeachment motion before the current parliamentary session ends on Dec. 9.
At a general meeting of lawmakers, Chung raised concerns that the procedure could be further drawn out, lengthening the current political confusion.
Even if the impeachment is concluded early, it will lead to a hasty election which will seriously damage the legitimacy of the next administration, the floor leader said.
If the National Assembly passes the motion in early December and the Constitutional Court approves it within two to three months, the presidential election has to be held in March, he noted.
He called for an "orderly" political solution to this crisis, urging party lawmakers to take all possible options into consideration, before pushing for impeachment.
"It is more righteous to focus on next year's budget plan and parliamentary investigation (into the scandal) during this period," he said.
The conservative party is facing its worst crisis amid allegations that Park's confidante Choi Soon-sil enjoyed various personal benefits and exerted significant influence on state affairs.
In the wake of the scandal, the party was overtaken this week by the minor People's Party and ranked third in public approval for the first time, according to the pollster Realmeter. It recorded 16.7 percent, down 2.3 percentage points from a week earlier. Once the most popular political party with over 30 percent support, Saenuri saw its rating drop for an eighth consecutive week since the scandal broke.'