[EDITORIALS]A disgraceful political cartelIn a cartel-like move, the three major political parties have orchestrated an increase in the number of National Assembly seats to 299 from the current 273. The decision comes after months of waffling on the part of all three parties, starkly revealing how shameless they will be in the pursuit of their interests.
Until the end of last year, Our Open Party had feverishly opposed the increase. Images of party members claiming legislators had no right to make such a change are still fresh in our minds. On the last day of the session, however, they led the push for the increase. Publicly, they argued that this was to give women more representation, but any observer will tell you they were advancing their interests, since they have promised seats to their new recruits.
The Millennium Democratic Party was just as brazen. They had initially sided with the Grand Nationals in calling for more seats, but when faced with contrary public opinion, they said they favored a freeze. Then, last Friday, they pushed for 15 more electoral seats and won them. At that time, other parties were arguing for an increase of about nine, but the Millennium Democrats, concerned that that would mean a reduction of districts in the southwestern Jeolla provinces, fought for 15.
The Grand National Party’s behavior on the expansion epitomizes greed and lack of backbone. At first, they supported it as a formal party position; then they changed their minds and hunkered down to see where the wind blew. To the last minute, they said they were for a freeze, but would not stand in the way if other parties wanted an increase. When the others pushed for it, the Grand Nationals jumped on the bandwagon. We don’t see why such a party needs to espouse formal policy stances, or for that matter, why it should be the majority party.
Adding 26 seats means taxpayers will have to pay tens of billions of won in lawmakers’ salaries. This should be publicly debated, but the change was pushed through at the 11th hour. Voters will have a hard time penalizing anyone, because the parties worked in concert. This is why we need conscientious, courageous politicians who will not pander away their convictions. This is why we, as proponents of a freeze, are feeling despondent.