Local councils become battlefields

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Local councils become battlefields

Brawling between opposition members and the GNP has already begun on city councils, district councils and provincial legislatures - all of which saw their ranks swell with opposition candidates after the June local elections - just days after they inaugurated their new members.

At the Gwangju City Council in Gyeonggi province, the GNP and the Democratic Party each took four council seats in the election. Last Thursday morning, the four GNP members showed up for an extraordinary session of the council, but the opposition members didn’t. Without a quorum, the session and the assembly opening ceremony were canceled.

At the Gwangmyeong City Council in Gyeonggi, six DP members elected their chairman, vice chairman and two standing committee members without the five GNP members in attendance. The GNP shouted foul because they thought the leadership positions were going to be shared between the parties. The DP was supposed to take the chairmanship and one committee seat, and the GNP would fill the vice chairman position and the other committee seat.

“It is impossible to work with the DP as they betrayed our trust and broke their promise” said Lee Byung-ju, a GNP council member.

In their defense, the DP said the idea of sharing the leadership positions came from only a few DP members, not all of them.

Nam District Council in Ulsan Metropolitan City, with six Democratic Labor Party and eight GNP members, had similar drama. The DLP wanted to share leadership positions with the GNP, but the ruling party insisted on a vote, which it won. The six DLP members immediately held a sit-in protest in the council assembly hall.

The list goes on. Leadership positions at the Dongducheon City Council were taken by the dominant party, the GNP, while at the Namyangju City Council the DP prevailed.

The Gwangju Metropolitan City Council, which has 20 DP members and two DLP members, will hold an election for leadership positions tomorrow. The DLP members are protesting the election, saying that they are worried about the DP taking all the leadership posts.

In the South Gyeongsang Provincial Government Council, 21 opposition members are boycotting an election for leadership positions and are demanding the GNP give up its intentions of dominating the council.

“In developed nations, it is natural for the majority party to fill the chairman, vice chairman and standing committee member positions,” said Ahn Hong-joon, the provincial chairman of the GNP in South Gyeongsang province. “I also think it is perfectly fair and right to hold an election for those leadership posts.”

“This problem is happening every time new local officials are elected,” said Kim Jun-han, a public administration professor at Ajou University. “Only when there is legislation that would fairly distribute leadership positions according to the number of votes will this problem be solved.”

By Chung Young-jin [enational@joongang.co.kr]
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