South Korea’s Parliament on Wednesday approved President Moon Jae-in’s nomination of Lee Nak-yon as Prime Minister.
The 299-seat National Assembly passed the confirmation motion for Lee at a plenary session joined by the ruling Democratic Party, People’s Party, Justice Party and Bareun Party.
Among the 188 lawmakers present, 164 approved of Lee. Twenty disapproved while two abstained, with two votes listed as invalid, Yonhap news agency reported.
Shortly after the endorsement, Moon conferred an appointment certificate on Lee.
The main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) refused to attend the vote. It called Lee unfit for the post, taking issue with the fact that Lee’s wife used a false address in 1989 to get assigned to a school in southern Seoul as a teacher.
The LKP’s boycott of the vote boded ill for Moon’s efforts to foster cooperation with an opposition-led legislature, observers said.
“At this time, I believe it would be difficult to forge cooperative ties (with the ruling bloc),” Chung Woo-taik, the LKP floor leader, told reporters.
“The responsibility for providing the cause for breaking ‘cooperative governance’ rests wholly with the government and ruling party,” he added.
However, Woo Won-shik, the ruling party whip, pledged to try his utmost to ensure smooth cooperation with the opposition bloc.
“Though there were twists and turns (in the confirmation process), I don’t think they meant a suspension of cooperative governance,” he said.
“The primary reason for the endorsement is citizens’ demand to stably handle (state affairs),” he added.
Lee’s motion was widely expected to pass through the Assembly despite LKP objections.
His official appointment required consent from a majority of the lawmakers present.
The ruling party holds 120 parliamentary seats, while the People’s Party with 40 seats had pledged to cooperate with the confirmation process.
The parliamentary endorsement for Lee is expected to provide much-needed momentum to Moon’s efforts to form his own Cabinet.
By law, a President is to appoint his or her Cabinet ministers with recommendations from the Prime Minister.
Currently, the new liberal president runs the Cabinet with a series of holdovers from the former conservative government.