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[Editorial] Is It Time to Increase the Number of Members in the National Assembly?

[Editorial] Is It Time to Increase the Number of Members in the National Assembly?

Posted November. 19, 2003 23:12,   


The executive secretaries of the three opposition and ruling parties of the Special Committee for Political Reform at the National Assembly agreed to increase the number of members in the National Assembly from 273 to 299. Although the Grand National Party (GNP) dissented from the decision, saying that is not in line with the views of the party, it is simply shocking to see how little politicians understand the wishes of the nation.

There is some truth to the assertion that certain election districts should be adjusted according to the Verfassungsgericht decision in 2001, which decreed that the population deviation between election districts must not exceed three to one. In addition, the assertion that an increase in proportional representation strengthens the specialty in the assembly has a point. Even so, it is not the right time for assemblymen to insist on increasing the number of National Assembly members, while indignation and distrust towards politics grows as a result of the absurd presidential election campaign fund scandal.

Now is the time to speed up political reform to prevent dirty money from meddling in politics any further. We must have transparency in political fundraising and draw up a plan that can change our costly but inefficient political system. If politicians leave these matters untouched and simply deal with the number of persons in the assembly, will the nation continue to tolerate them? It is natural for the nation to prod the politicians who say we should leave it to them to reform politics but only concern themselves with power struggles.

In addition, the order of the discussion is wrong. Although executive secretaries of the three parties agreed to increase the number of members in the assembly, there are also the Redistricting Commission, which was launched in May, as well as the recently launched Korean Council for Political Reform. Is it acceptable for only the executive secretaries of the three parties to make an agreement without a single word of input from others? This is why criticism and allegations of closet politics and an illicit union are mounting.

The current number of 273 assemblymen originates from the anguished effects of the management system of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) just before the 16th general election three years ago, when the number of assemblymen decreased from 299 to 273. At this point, some say we have weathered the crisis, but there are no signs that the quality of our lives has improved. The state of politics is worse than that of our quality of life. People commonly see politics as an obstacle due to strife and party splits rather than a driving power for unity and prosperity in the nation. Therefore, each politician must ask himself with modesty if there is any justification for increasing the number of assemblymen. After all, is the country’s current situation a result of too few members in the National Assembly?