A “4+1” consultative body, which excludes the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP), ended its filibuster to delay the processing of the revision bill of the Public Official Election Act at midnight Wednesday. A filibuster is originally meant to be a legal dilatory tactic to be adopted by opposition parties, but the members of the ruling party unusually launched its own pro-revision bill filibuster. Once a new provisional session starts, the agenda subject to the filibuster on Wednesday can be immediately put to a vote. The ruling Democratic Party of Korea plans to proceed with a voting process for the bill on Thursday when a new provisional session is initiated.
The “4+1” election bill is composed of three parts – 253 seats for local constituencies, 17 seats for proportional representation based on the list of political party members, and 30 seats for semi-proportional representation of linkage. The shares of seats for proportional representation will be greatly reduced for the majority party and the second-largest party, which will secure a number of seats for local constituencies. Such parties’ seats out of the total of 30 proportional representation seats with the vote linkage rate of 50 percent will be replaced by opposition minor parties. Under the condition to ensure the shares of opposition minor parties for the votes cast to unelected candidates, the votes earned by the first- and second-largest parties at the voting for parties will be meaningless. The balance between voting for constituencies and voting for parties, which have the identical value, will be broken. In fact, this tactic of maintaining the executive presidency system while introducing the German-style proportional representation of linkage system suited for the parliamentary system is equivalent to gerrymandering.
The LKP said it will create a “proportional LKP,” which is a satellite political party in charge of the proportional system once the election bill is passed. Some members of the ruling party even call for a “proportional Democratic Party” to compete. However, the ruling party is in a tricky situation as it gave the election bill as a gift to opposition minor parties in return for the processing of the bill for investigative powers reform.
At the last-minute negotiations, minor opposition parties presented the withdrawal of the system, which allows candidates to concurrently run for both regional representation seat and proportional seat and grants election win to those candidates who “narrowly lost the election” despite garnering more popular votes among such candidates as a sweeping decision, but they practically secured their shares of seats for proportional representation of linkage. As a result, the entry by the first- and second-largest parties is blocked while the shares of minor opposition parties increase. This is why the minor parties are criticized for practically acting as a “proportional Democratic Party,” a satellite party of the ruling party. In addition, the minor parties with lots of constituencies in the Honam region facing mergers restored the constituencies by putting pressure on the ruling party. Presenting the election bill as a “transformation” while looking out for their own interests with brinkmanship negotiations swayed by minor parties is a shameless behavior.
Historically, there has not been a single case like this, in which election bill negotiations are conducted in such a unilateral manner. The tarnished election bill as a result of the “4+1” behind-the-door negotiations without the leading opposition party will only provide political tricks and excuses. The unilateral processing of such an election bill will be a stain on South Korea’s constitutional history.