Go to contents

Panel Seeks to Reduce Regional Bias in Elections

Posted June. 09, 2010 14:25,   


The Presidential Committee on Social Harmony announced Tuesday that it will host a debate on a reshuffle of the electoral constituency system in the second half of the year to ease regionalism.

President Lee Myung-bak last year also suggested the need to reform the electoral constituency system to resolve regionalism in his Liberation Day speech on Aug. 15. So attention is on whether the discussion will flare up over a reshuffle of the system.

The committee has run subcommittees on social class, ideology, region and generation since its inauguration in December last year, and is discussing social conflict and how to resolve it. It presented in a meeting Tuesday 10 projects, including the reform of the electoral constituency system.

▽ Reform of the election system

One of the committee’s ambitious projects is reform of the election system. It claimed that political structure based on regionalism is the biggest obstacle to social integration, calling the election system a major cause for one-party control of regions.

Referring to the single-member, small-district constituency system for the general elections, the committee said, “The system is advantageous only to the party with strong regional backing and helps reinforce the political structure of regionalism, and ballots in support of other parties become waste votes and distort the real intents of voters.”

As a result, the committee told the president that it is discussing with the Korea Association of Party Studies and election experts the pros and cons of multiple-member, medium and large district-based electoral constituency systems, the portions of political party-based and candidate-based voting, and parliamentary seat quotas.

It will launch a public debate, including public hearings on several alternative measures, including the introduction of mid- to large-size electoral district systems that elect two or more representatives per constituency or the expansion of the proportional representation system.

The committee has also reviewed problems that appeared in last week’s local elections. It will examine the shortcomings of the party-recommended candidacy system for the heads of provincial and municipal governments, improving the system, problems in the elections of educational superintendents and education board members, and resolving them.

▽ Improving working conditions for part-time college lecturers

In the wake of a suicide by a part-time college lecturer over wages, the committee also reported to the president that it will consider a system to improve the job security of part-time lecturers and raising their pay level from 25 percent of a full-time lecturer’s salary to half. They will also qualify for the four basic types of insurance.

The committee also announced that it will raise pay for part-time lecturers at national and public universities who teach more than nine hours per week. The plan is to spend 27 billion won (22 million U.S. dollars) and encourage private colleges to voluntarily join the campaign.

Committee chairman Goh Kun quoted President Lee as saying the part-time lecturer issue “should be resolved at any rate.”

On the deadly clash last year between police and residents in a redevelopment area in Seoul’s Yongsan district, the presidential panel also announced measures to resolve conflict over urban redevelopment and reconstruction projects.

Suggestions included more compensation for shop owners in such areas, expansion of substitute store leases, and introduction of the automatic cessation of projects in areas where a project`s launch is delayed only after designation as a redevelopment site.