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LKP reps say they will resign to protest DP election reform

Mar 18,2019
이미지뷰
Ruling and opposition lawmakers of the parliamentary Special Committee on Political Reform meet to discuss reforming the electoral system Sunday. From left: the Bareunmirae Party’s Kim Song-sik, Justice Party’s Sim Sang-jeung, Democratic Party’s Kim Jong-min and the Party for Democracy and Peace’s Chun Jung-bae. [YONHAP]
As a legislative coalition led by the ruling Democratic Party (DP) enters a final round of negotiations to create a new electoral system in time for next year’s general election, the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) said Sunday that all of its lawmakers are willing to resign if the bill is pushed forward.

The LKP held an emergency meeting at the National Assembly on Sunday to criticize the DP’s strategy of linking the election law change with two unrelated contentious bills and use of the fast-track legislation system to pass them. The DP has formed an alliance with three opposition parties, excluding the LKP, to push forward three bills aimed at revising the election system, creating a new investigative body to go after senior public servants and redistribute investigative authority from the prosecution to the police.

Floor leaders of the DP, Bareunmirae Party, Party for Democracy and Peace and Justice Party continued their negotiation on Sunday to finalize the electoral system change. The deadline to finalize electoral districts for the April 2020 general election was last Friday.

LKP lawmakers said Sunday that it is unacceptable for the DP to link the electoral system change with two unrelated bills.

“The DP lured some opposition parties and tried to suppress those critical of the administration by introducing the new investigative body and redistributing investigative powers,” said Rep. Na Kyung-won, floor leader of the LKP. She then said that this was the Moon Jae-in administration’s attempt to operate a “Korean version of the Gestapo,” the secret police of Nazi Germany.

After the meeting, Na told reporters that it is possible for all LKP lawmakers to step down en masse to stop the DP’s strategy. “We are dealing this matter with this determination,” she said. “And the possibility is still alive and we are using it to pressure them.”

The LKP currently has 113 lawmakers in the 300-seat National Assembly. They said an early general election must occur if all of them resign at the same time, since the National Assembly is required to have more than 200 lawmakers.

The “fast-track” system was introduced to the legislature in 2014 to advance stalled bills. A bill can be designated as a fast-track item if more than three-fifths of all lawmakers, or more than three-fifths of the members of a standing committee, agree to it. It takes a maximum of 330 days to automatically schedule a vote on a fast-tracked bill.

So far, the DP and three opposition parties have agreed they want to maintain the total number of seats in the National Assembly at 300. While 225 will be allocated to electoral seats, 75 will be taken by proportional representatives, according to their agreement. As of now, 253 are representatives from electoral districts, while 47 are proportional representatives. To make the change, the lawmakers had to create a new electoral map and reduce the number of voting districts by 28.

The LKP created its own plan and announced it on Friday. According to the LKP, its lawmakers agreed to a bill that completely scraps the proportional representation system, while the number of the total lawmakers will be reduced to 270. The party said the proportional representation system has shown more drawbacks than strengths since it was introduced in 1963, and the time has come to get rid of it.

All 113 lawmakers of the LKP supported the bill.

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]