Scrap party nominationFemale legislators have joined forces to stand up against scrapping party nominations for candidates for local executive government and councilmen posts. Both ruling and main opposition party presidential candidates Park Geun-hye and Moon Jae-in vowed to stop nominating candidates for local elections to end the practice and controversy over lobbying, favoritism and unqualified candidates. We have to study what is necessary to reinforce the functionalities of local administrations and governments.
During a debate on the issue at the National Assembly, female representatives from both the ruling and opposition parties stood together to argue that if political parties stop nominating candidates for local elections, the path for women to enter politics will be narrowed. They claimed that party nominations helped guarantee female political participation to some extent.
When the system is scrapped, not only women, but also all other less influential populations like the youth and disabled could lose representation on the political stage. The ratio of elected councilwomen shot up to 21.6 percent in the 2010 local elections from a mere 2.2 percent in the 2002 elections since political parties reserved nomination spots for female candidates.
But the plan to cease party nominations has been a part of campaign promises on political reform. Since political parties became involved in candidate selection from 2006, local governments came under the mercy of political parties that had the final say in naming local administrative leaders. Gubernatorial, mayoral and local legislative elections turned into rivalries among political parties instead of contests on the issues and needs of local residents. Bribery scandals and ideological factionalism also marred the elections, raising questions about the viability of the local election system.
Political parties in principle should stay out of local elections to revitalize the role and purpose of the local autonomous governance system. We need more female members in politics. But their participation cannot be sustained merely through party nominations. Reform in political parties and culture should come first.
Legislators are dragging their feet on the plan to scrap party nominations. There are already suspicious voices that representatives are resisting an end to their nomination authority in their constituencies.
The public cannot have faith in political parties if they disavow their own promises to the people.