Major political parties are set to iron out differences over a
long-delayed electoral system bill aimed at introducing reforms
ahead of the April general elections.
The Special Committee for Political Reform will reconvene
Thursday to tackle key pending issues, but officials fear it will be
hampered because representatives from each party are expected to
only focus on articulating partisan interests.
The special committees' first round of talks on political reform
proposals were disrupted last December by contention over the number
of lawmakers in the Assembly.
The majority Grand National Party (GNP) and other opposition
parties have agreed to increase the number of lawmakers to 289 from
the current 273, but they want to keep the number of those elected
under the proportional representation system at 46.
They also intend to increase the number of residents that
currently define an electoral district. According to current
district regulations a constituency is comprised of between 90,000
and 340,000 people. Opposition parties want to increase the number
to a range between 100,000 and 300,000 constituents.
The Uri Party wants to keep the total number of lawmakers at 273,
including 46 seats elected under proportional representation. Uri
Party lawmakers argue opposition parties are seeking to increase
their number of regional representatives due mainly to their
The rival parties are also at odds over the voting age, in which
the GNP and the United Liberal Democrats want to maintain the status
quo, while the Uri and the Millennium Democratic Party have been
pushing to lower the age from 20 to 19, which would enfranchise
800,000 potential voters and boost young people's participation in
the political process.
The envisioned special committee session comes as GNP lawmaker
Lee Jae-oh was chosen as its new chairman after former chairman Mok
Yo-sang stepped down last December, taking responsibility for the
ongoing dispute over the electoral system.
For the past couple of weeks, the Assembly's special committee
has been crippled, as the Uri Party and its three opposition forces
refused to give ground over the issue.