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Old voting behavior solely based on party preferences should change

Old voting behavior solely based on party preferences should change

Posted May. 19, 2022 08:05,   

Updated May. 19, 2022 08:05


Official election campaigns for the June 1 local elections began on. The fierce competition will last 13 days. A total of 7,616 candidates are running for 2,324 constituencies, including the elections for the heads of 17 cities and provinces. The local elections are taking place 22 days after the end of the presidential election. Their results will greatly impact the early political situation of the Yoon Suk-yeol administration.

The local elections should be an opportunity to critically eval‎uate poor activities in parliamentary politics showcased by local assembly members. According to the analysis of ordinance bills proposed by local and provincial councilors elected in the 2018 local elections, Citizens' Coalition for Economic Justice and Kyungpook National University found that the annual average number of bills proposed is 2.99 for provincial councilors and 2.05 for local councilors. In particular, 24.3 percent of 2,981 local councilors proposed less than one bill per year on average. The current status of local councils is shameful.

Local councils’ impact on local communities is massive. They can enact ordinances or administrative rules regarding local taxes and challenge the heads of local governments’ budget execution. If they do not engage in parliamentary politics at a level appropriate for their power, it is a serious waste of taxes. While local councilors in foreign countries are honorary positions with no pay, it is different in South Korea. They get paid 40 million won per year on average for expenses for parliamentary activities. Local councils should not avoid accountability.

Voting behavior that results in local councils’ failure to keep the heads of local governments in check is problematic. According to The Dong-A Ilbo’s analysis of all election results of the councilors of cities and provinces for three local elections since 2010, more than half of them were from the same political party as the heads of the local governments. It is the result of voters voting for local government heads and local councilors from the same party. As local councilors have poor capabilities and their affiliated political party is regarded as the only important factor, local councils often become a yes man.

Due to the fierce conflicts between the ruling and opposition parties, voting based on policies and visions seems to have disappeared. Failing to correct the poor parliamentary activities of local councils cannot lead to improvement in local people’s lives. How long should voting solely based on party preferences while disregarding actual candidates and their policy pledges last? It is time to change the old voting behavior.