Parties debate Sejong City’s addition to electoral map

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Parties debate Sejong City’s addition to electoral map

The ruling and opposition parties yesterday wrestled over a new constituency map for the April 11 legislative elections as they failed to agree on creating a new electoral district for mini-capital Sejong City in South Chungcheong.

The National Assembly’s Special Committee on Political Reform yesterday held a meeting to redraw the constituency map for the upcoming elections but no decision was made as of that evening. The deadline to create the new constituency map is today.

The process to create a new constituency map began last year, but the lawmakers made little headway. An outside experts’ panel under the National Assembly speaker created a new map and submitted it to the special committee in November. According to the plan, the total number of seats in the legislature will be increased from 299 to 302 by adding three electoral districts in the areas currently occupied by the ruling Grand National Party.

The largest opposition, the Democratic United Party, rejected the idea and made a counter-proposal. It wanted to keep the number of the total seats at 299, while adjusting the current map to create a new constituency in Sejong City while reducing one district from the area currently occupied by the GNP.

Then the political wrangling began. In a move to defend their traditional strongholds, negotiators of the two largest parties met Sunday and struck a deal. The compromise will retain the 299 seats, but the lawmakers wish to adjust the number of elected lawmakers and the number of proportional representatives. According to the plan, the number of electoral districts will be increased to 248 by creating three new constituencies, while the number of proportional representatives will be reduced by three to 51.

One new constituency will be added in Paju, northern Gyeonggi, currently occupied by the GNP, the plan said, while a new constituency will also be created in Wonju in Gangwon, currently occupied by the DUP. And the third constituency will be created in Sejong City in South Chungcheong, the stronghold of the conservative opposition Liberty Forward Party.

No decision was made as of yesterday evening, but Representative Baek Won-woo of the DUP told reporters that the GNP suddenly changed its mind. Baek said the ruling party disagreed with a plan for creating a new constituency in Sejong due to the shortage of population.

As of now, a constituency must have a minimum population of 103,394. As of late October, Sejong City had a population of only 96,000.



By Ser Myo-ja, Jung Hyo-sik [myoja@joongang.co.kr]
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