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Sat Dec 28, 2019, 01:21 AM

Electoral Reform Law Passes in South Korean National Assembly

Last edited Sat Dec 28, 2019, 01:15 PM - Edit history (1)

(Image source- JTBC News 12.27)

The number of seats determined by district elections to seats in the National Assembly is the same as the prior election 253 seats. The number of seats determined by proportional representation is also the same 47 seats. However, the old (Hare) method is applied to 17 of the 47 seats. A new method of selecting proportional representation is applied to 30 of the 47 seats. An interlocking restriction of 50 percent is applied to proportional allocation of the seats to prevent the emergence of "excess seats." It is believed that the reform will most disadvantage the largest parties, namely the ruling Democratic Party and the main opposition party, the Liberty Korea Party, in the upcoming April 15, 2020 election for the National Assembly. The LKP has already registered a satellite party with the election commission in an attempt to field a minor party list which might benefit from the calculations and circumvent limitations in the proportional representation reform law.

(Image source- JTBC News 12.27)

The graphic above is a hypothetical projection of the results of the new fast track electoral reform law passed today in the Korean National Assembly, calculated with numbers from the 2016 general election. Note that some of the parties have changed in their composition since then, particularly the People's Party. So in this simulation, the Democratic Party loses 8 seats and the Liberty Korea Party loses 10. The People's Party (hypothetically) would gain 13 seats and the Justice Party would gain 5. Theoretically, this 13 seat gain would primarily acrue to the Barunmirae Party, the principal offspring of the People's Party in existence now. It is no coincidence that the Barunmirae Party and the Justice Party were the biggest supporters of the electoral reform and had to be cajoled by the Democratic Party to accept a compromise which downsized the proportional representation from 75 seats, as originally proposed, to 47 seats. Another significant aspect of the reform is the lowering of the age to vote to 18 years.

The exact nature and mechanics of all the new changes in the electoral reform law are hard to find. Past discussions of electoral reform changes have included the notion of regional proportionality in representation as opposed to a simple national proportionality. The details of those determinations and their mechanics are not clear as yet. In response to questions, the Justice Party floor leader said "the people don't need to know how it works," believe it or not. One wonders how many journalists actually do know how it works at this point. In the original reform proposal, representation in regional seats more than 30 percent of the total for the region, would limit supplemental proportionate representation. Naturally, this would adversely affect the largest parties.

(Source: YTN News, 12.28) Happening again, "animal National Assembly." The speaker of the assembly's platform is occupied (by a "human wall" of Liberty Korea Party representatives); a physical fight is ongoing. Speaker Moon center being physically assaulted by members of the Liberty Korea Party attempting to stall the passage of the electoral reform bill.

There will be two votes on the ballot in each district, one vote for the candidate to represent the district among the 253 district representative seats. The second vote to select a preferred party list nominating candidates for proportional representation. One thing is for certain, the LKP has been adamantly opposed to the fast track reform of the electoral system but it passed today anyway, in spite of all their illegal demonstrations, violence, threats, and physical intimidation outside the Assembly, and obstruction even inside the National Assembly itself today. LKP threats of a filibuster notwithstanding, the legislation passed. Now only the fast track prosecutorial reform bill is pending. Again this in the face of LKP stonewalling, demonstrations, and threats of filibuster. During the acrimony and disorder in the Assembly today, catcalling from the LKP represenatives was met with one telling response from a Democratic Party member, "we'll see how you do in the next election." The desperation of the far right party is palpable.

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