Published : 2013-01-22 19:09
Updated : 2013-01-22 19:09
If the shape of the new Blue House organization unveiled by the presidential transition team on Monday suggests anything, it is that President-elect Park Geun-hye will likely show a governing style far different from those of her predecessors.
Critical of the tradition of “imperial presidencies,” Park said she would scale back the power of the president and presidential staff while increasing the authority and responsibility of the prime minister and Cabinet ministers.
Park’s intention to break away from the tradition and reset the relationship between the president and the Cabinet was well reflected in the slimmed-down presidential secretariat.
While the current Blue House organization consists of two offices, nine senior secretaries and six senior officers, the new one only has two offices and nine senior secretaries.
The number of presidential commissions has also been drastically reduced from the current 18 to a mere three.
The downsizing of the presidential office makes sense, as Park plans to delegate much of her power to the prime minister and Cabinet ministers so that they can assume both authority and responsibility for the conduct of state affairs.
Park is expected to focus on diplomacy and national security, while empowering the prime minister and the deputy prime minister to control non-economic ministries and economy-related ministries, respectively.
Under the “imperial presidencies” of the past, senior presidential secretaries often have more power than ministers. But Park is likely to limit the role of presidential secretaries to assisting the president; they would not be allowed to overstep their bounds and interfere with the affairs of ministries.
Park has also demonstrated her intention to exercise the president’s authority to make personnel appointments more prudently and fairly by establishing a commission whose mission is to scrutinize presidential appointments. The panel will be chaired by the presidential chief of staff.
Another salient organizational change to be introduced by Park is the creation of the “Office of National Security,” which is expected to serve as the “control tower” in handling matters related to foreign relations and national security.
The new office reflects the importance that Park attaches to national security. On the campaign trail, she said a strong security posture is the “most basic welfare” for the people.
Now, with the unveiling of the Blue House organization, the framework of the new government has taken shape. How a system works depends on who runs it. Whether Park’s experiment with a new statecraft succeeds or not depends on whom she appoints as the prime minister and Cabinet ministers.