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Current Electoral Districts to Be Largely Rearranged by Year 2003

Current Electoral Districts to Be Largely Rearranged by Year 2003

Posted October. 26, 2001 09:01,   


The Constitutional Court ruled unconstitutional the current arrangement of electoral districts for parliament that allows the number of population between various constituencies to differ by more than three times.

Accordingly, political circles are expected to be influenced largely by this ruling since electoral districts nationwide should be rearranged so as for the difference between the most populated constituency and the least not to exceed the 3:1 ratio by Dec. 31, 2003, before the parliamentary election. Thus, rearrangement of electoral districts following this ruling is expected to affect the distribution of parliamentary seats by political parties.

The Constitutional Court Full Branch (Chief Justice Kim, Young-Il) declared a discord with Constitution on Oct. 25, regarding the constitutional appeal carried by Chung and others over the arrangement of electoral districts for parliament according to the current Election Law for Public Positions and Prevention of Electoral Malpractices.

The court ruled, ``the current electoral district arrangement chart that causes the ratio of the most populated constituency to the least to exceed 3:1 and its prescription, Section 2, Article 25 of current election law, violate the suffrage and equality.``

The court added, ``However, a decision of a discord with Constitution was made, which recognizes the effect of current election law until its revision to prevent a legal vacuum in parliamentary re-elections and bi-elections.``

The court continued, ``Even though a difference ratio of 2 to 1 between maximum and minimum population of constituencies is most desirable, the 3:1 ratio was set as the limit of constitutionality, considering the fact that a discussion over this matter began just five years ago.``

However, the court ruled, regarding the constitutional appeal carried by the residents of Kumdan-Dong who argued that the electoral district of Kumdan-Dong, Seo-Gu, Incheon, had been included arbitrarily into Kanghwa-Kun, Incheon, that the inclusion was constitutional because ``it could hardly be seen as the legislators` arbitrary arrangement of the electoral districts of the region.``

Among seven justices who voted for a declaration of unconstitutionality, six justices attributed the differences between constituencies, which reached up to the 3.65:1 ratio, to unconstitutionality, whereas Justice Kwon Sung suggested a minority opinion that the arbitrarily arrangement of electoral districts in some regions, including Kanghwa-Kun, was unconstitutional.

Mr. Chung and others carried a constitutional appeal to the court, arguing that the equal value of a voter`s ballot was violated as a result of the population difference ratio reaching 3.65 to 1 between the least populated electoral district, Koryung-Sungjoo, Kyungbuk Province, holding 90,656 residents and the most populated, Dongan-Gu, Ansung, Kyunggi-Do, holding 331,458.

The ruling as such is a sort of modified decision that the Constitutional Court makes when, despite the fact that the unconstitutionality of current regulations has been disclosed, it is necessarily to recognize their validity temporarily until they are revised for it can prevent a legal confusion possibly caused by the expiration of the regulations concerned, which lose their validity immediately after they are declared unconstitutional. If this ruling is made, the National Assembly and the government are obliged to revise the regulations concerned by the date the Constitutional Court has ordered.

Jung Wi-Yong viyonz@donga.com