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Increasing the number of lawmakers is not a responsibility of NPAD reform panel

Increasing the number of lawmakers is not a responsibility of NPAD reform panel

Posted July. 27, 2015 07:17,   


The reform panel of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) announced on Sunday the 5th reform draft that calls for reform of the election system to increase the number of lawmakers. The main opposition had expressed disagreement over Saenuri’s adoption of a fully-open primary system where ordinary citizens hold all the votes. It is questionable whether it is appropriate for a reform panel, which is formed for reform of an individual political party, to release unilateral opinion over a sensitive political issue, which requires discussion between rival parties. Even the NPAD party members criticize that the panel has exceeded its authority.

The NPAD’s reform panel is a temporary organization formed to diagnose a root-cause and develop future corrective actions after a crushing defeat in the by-election on April 29. Although NPAD Chairman Moon Jae-in has created the panel to escape from the mounting pressure to call for his resignation, it is also true that the panel received expectation to address the party’s internal deep-rooted bad practices including a chronic faction discord between pro-Roh faction (supporters of the late former President Roh Moo-hyun) and others, misbehaving of the party members, and taking inappropriate political stances and policy lines. However, the panel has been under criticism for producing insufficient outcomes. Critics say that the panel is helping Moon and pro-Roh faction to strengthen their position under the excuse of "reform." Disappointment is even growing further as the reform panel, which has produced little fruits for the party reform, started putting its nose into a political issue which has nothing to do with its responsibility.

Increasing the number of lawmakers goes against general sentiment of the public. The public’s trust level on the National Assembly is rock bottom. Many people view that the benefits and financial support for a lawmaker, which is worth 137.96 million won (approx. USD 117,817), needs to be cut and the current number of lawmakers, which is 300, is too many. The NPAD reform panel argues that the number of lawmakers need to be increased citing that the population per lawmaker ratio is higher than the average of the OECD member countries. But the panel’s claim is not convincing since it is a simple comparison without consideration on each nation’s political conditions such as activities of a lawmaker or support of aid staff. Some nations including the U.S., Japan and Mexico have much higher population per lawmaker ratio.

Moon said in April, “The number of lawmakers in Korea needs to be around 400.” After receiving harsh criticism of the press, Moon equivocated that he was half joking when making the comment. On the Saenuri’s adoption of the open primary system, Moon was positive when he came forward as a candidate of the party chairman. However, now he has changed his stance, probably out of concerns over a possibility to lose his nomination right. Considering such backgrounds, it is not too much to say that the reform panel is trying to lead the view of the NPAD on political reform on behalf of its leader.