Hopes for Electoral Reform
By Yoo Dong-ho
December 29, 2003
Political parties on Monday failed to iron out differences over a
long-delayed electoral system bill aimed at introducing reforms
before April¬°¬Øs general elections.
In a move to bring the stalled bill to the National Assembly¬°¬Øs
extraordinary session, three opposition parties called for Speaker
Park Kwan-yong to convene a committee of the whole house. But the
pro-government Uri Party blocked the attempt and the opposition
A rupture in negotiations on the most contentious issue _ the
number of lawmakers to be elected under proportional representation
_ has clouded prospects of passing the controversial reform bill
within this year.
Under a recent ruling by the Constitutional Court, the current
electoral district system and the 272-member parliament will be left
unconstitutional unless a special committee for political reform
legislates a new system by the year¬°¬Øs end.
Rep. Mok Yo-sang, chairman of the special committee, said he will
step down on Tuesday to take responsibility for the ongoing dispute
over the electoral system.
For the past couple of weeks, the Assembly¬°¬Øs special committee
has been crippled as the Uri Party and three opposition forces
refused to give ground over the issue.
Lawmakers of the majority Grand National Party (GNP), the
Millennium Democratic Party and the United Liberal Democrats used
their power in the special committee to push for a vote on their
proposals. But Uri Party officials barred their attempts by taking
up all the seats in the committee room and blocking them from
The GNP and other opposition parties have agreed to keep the
number of lawmakers at 273, but they want just 30 selected under the
proportional representation system.
The Uri Party wants with 46 seats filled under proportional
representation. Uri Party lawmakers argue that the opposition
parties are seeking to increase the number of regional
representatives due mainly to their vested interests.
The opposition parties had urged the National Assembly speaker to
forward their proposals at the plenary session, acting ex