Proportional representation introduced to local councilors

By Young-Chan Yoon
Published June 18th 2005 in Donga
It is expected that the systems of party nomination and proportional representation will be applied to local councilors starting with next year’s local elections.

The Special Committee on Political Reform of the National Assembly (chair: Rep. Lee Kang-rae) effectively reached an agreement through a compromise between the ruling and opposition parties on the change, according to a June 17 report. The recent agreement includes the introduction of party nominations and proportional representation while reducing the number of paid local councilor jobs.

While the Uri Party and the Grand National Party propose to set the ratio of local councilors elected through proportional representation at 20 percent, which is similar to that of the National Assembly (18.7 percent), the Democratic Labor Party is calling for 50 percent.

Lee In-ki, a GNP member of the special committee, said, “As women should be included in local councilors, no party would be against the introduction of proportional representation,” adding, “A party nomination system is essential to the introduction of proportional representation.”

Uri Party Rep. Lee Hwa-young said, “Our party’s goal is to allow quality councilors to participate by making local councilor positions paying jobs and introducing a proportional representation system. In particular, we propose paving the way for women’s participation in local politics by filling at least half of the proportional representatives with women.”

The committee decided to approve the revision of the local autonomy law in the special session of the National Assembly, after concluding making local councilors into a paying job and the introduction of party nominations and proportional representation of local councilors next week.