Proportional candidates a crucial part of elections

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Proportional candidates a crucial part of elections

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An election commission official checks electronic ballot-counting devices yesterday in a gymnasium of the Gyeonggi Commercial High School in Jongno District, in central Seoul, ahead of today’s legislative elections. [NEWSIS]

In today’s legislative elections, voters will cast two ballots - one to elect the lawmaker representing their district and the other for a political party to elect proportional representatives.

As the political parties face extremely tight matches around the nation, winning the proportional representation has become more important than ever for the ruling and opposition parties to claim ultimate victory.

According to the Public Official Election Act’s Article 189, the National Election Commission will split up the 54 seats of proportional representatives to the political parties which have obtained 3 percent or more of the total valid votes in the proportional representative election, or five or more seats in the local constituency election, in proportion to the votes cast for each political party.

Twenty political parties have registered their lists of proportional candidates with the National Election Commission for today’s elections, but it is likely that only major political parties will win votes for the proportional representation.

In March, the conservative ruling Saenuri Party announced its list of 46 candidates for proportional representation. Park Geun-hye, the interim leader, was given No. 11 on the list. The largest liberal opposition Democratic United Party listed 40 candidates for proportional representation, and its chairwoman Han Myeong-sook was ranked No. 15.

The minority opposition Unified Progressive Party announced a list of 20 proportional representation candidates, and the conservative opposition Liberty Forward Party had 16 candidates. Polls conducted recently showed that the Saenuri Party will win 24 to 26 seats for the proportional lawmakers, while the DUP will win about 22 to 24. The UPP is projected to win about four to five proportional representatives, while the LFP will win one or two seats, the surveys on the approval rating of political parties show.

Since the one voter-two ballot system was introduced, 14 political parties sought to have proportional representatives in 2004. In 2008, 15 political parties were registered. The National Election Commission said this year’s 20 political parties, including some that were newly created at the last minutes of the elections, is the largest number. One of them is the Grand National Party, a Daegu and North Gyeongsang-based party that picked up the name after the Saenuri Party discarded it as part of reform efforts.

The power of the proportional representation voting was already proven. In the 2004 general election, the Democratic Labor Party, the predecessor of the UPP, won eight seats by winning 13 percent of the votes for the proportional representation, while it only managed to win two constituencies.



By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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