Saenuri head calls for seats in legislature to stay at 300

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Saenuri head calls for seats in legislature to stay at 300

Ruling Saenuri Party Chairman Kim Moo-sung argued on Tuesday that the number of National Assembly lawmakers should be kept at its current 300 as he addressed the main opposition party’s proposal to drastically increase the number of seats in the legislature.

“Public opinion is that [the number of lawmakers] should not exceed 300,” Kim told reporters at Incheon International Airport upon returning from a 10-day visit to the United States. “We, as politicians, need to respect the general public’s opinion.”

Last month, the reform committee under the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) proposed a plan for reorganizing electoral districts and proportional representatives, which would increase the number of National Assembly seats to up to 369.

The NPAD’s floor leader, Rep. Lee Jong-kul, has also proposed increasing the total number of lawmakers to 390, while decreasing their pay by half. As of now, the unicameral National Assembly has 300 seats - 246 of them are for representatives of geographical constituencies, while the rest are for proportional representatives selected by the major parties.

Last October, the Constitutional Court ruled the current electoral constituency map unconstitutional, saying it resulted in unequal representation caused by population changes.

“Even though regional constituency seats increase in accordance with the Constitutional Court’s ruling, proportional seats will just have to be reduced,” Kim added. “If possible, I hope the National Assembly’s Special Committee on Political Reform will decide to keep the legislative seats at 300.”

Following the court ruling, the National Election Commission in February presented a plan to increase proportional representatives, and the National Assembly created a special committee in March to discuss the issue. Redistricting is supposed to be finalized by October.

BY SARAH KIM, LEE EUN [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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