Chungcheong advocates for more Assembly seats

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Chungcheong advocates for more Assembly seats

A group of lawmakers representing the Chungcheong provinces yesterday demanded an increase in the region’s National Assembly seats to reflect its rapidly growing population.

In a press conference held at the National Assembly, ruling Saenuri Party lawmakers who represent Chungcheong districts, or originally from the region, said the imbalance in current electoral districts must be corrected.

Among the 28 lawmakers who support the demand, 17 came to the media event yesterday.

“Population is the top priority in drawing electoral districts,” said Representative Park Seoung-hyo of Daedeok District of Daejeon, adding that the principle is in line with constitutional values.

He said that in past elections, constitutional disputes repeated because the changes in populations were not accurately reflected in electoral district boundaries.

The number of people in the Chungcheong region - including in the cities of Daejeon and Sejong - steadily grew, surpassing that of the Jeolla region for the first time in May this year.

As of May, Chungcheong had 5,250,136 residents, 408 more than the Jeolla’s population at 5,249,728.

In August, the gap increased. Chungcheong had 5,259,841 residents, while Jeolla had 5,249,747 - a difference of 10,094 people.

Currently, 30 seats in the 300-seat National Assembly are allocated to Jeolla, with 25 for Chungcheong. Gangwon Province, which has nearly the same population as Chungcheong, and is represented by 28 lawmakers.

The lawmakers claimed that Chungcheong votes were valued less in elections, which violated democratic principles, and argued that a discussion to redraw the electoral districts for the April 2016 general elections was necessary to accurately reflect the change in regional population.

They called on the ruling and opposition parties to create a special committee to handle the matter.

“We will also think about filing a petition with the Constitutional Court,” said Representative Chung Woo-taik, who represents Sangdang District of Cheongju, North Chungcheong. “If the Constitutional Court rules that the current electoral districts are against the principles of equality for each vote, our demands will see some progress in the National Assembly.”

A group of Democratic Party lawmakers representing the Chungcheong region also called for the party’s support in resolving the imbalance.

The largest opposition party, however, worried that the matter would prompt a confrontation between Chungcheong and Jeolla, as Jeolla is a traditional stronghold for the Democrats.

Increasing the Chungcheong seats by redrawing electoral boundaries is likely to provoke protest in the National Assembly because the number of total seats will likely stay the same, while other regions would have to give up seats.



BY SER MYO-JA [myoja@joongang.co.kr ]

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