No final decision on electoral map

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No final decision on electoral map


The leaders of the ruling and opposition parties failed again on Sunday to agree on how to redraw the electoral map for the April general election and pass labor reform bills that the government has been pressuring the National Assembly to act on.

Ruling Saenuri Party Chairman Kim Moo-sung met on Sunday with his opposition counterpart, Moon Jae-in, the leader of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), in the latest attempt to finalize an electoral map, with Assembly Speaker Chung Ui-hwa serving as arbiter.

The talks ended inconclusively after 90 minutes. The failure came five days after preliminary registration for candidacy began on Tuesday, and with no final decision, registrants have been forced to submit their bids without knowledge of which district they will eventually represent.

Kim said after discussions that while the two sides had agreed on increasing the number of elected seats to 253 from the current 246, the opposition had pushed for more concessions.

The two parties have remained in gridlock over the map’s reconfiguration, particularly over the specifics of the proportional representation system. However, they tentatively agreed to keep the number of lawmakers at 300 and decrease the number of proportional lawmakers by seven to 47 to reflect an increase in the number of district-elected lawmakers.

If the two rival parties fail to come up with an alternative to the current electoral map, the current 246 parliamentary districts will be invalid starting Jan. 1, a situation Chung described as an “emergency.”

The Saenuri Party and NPAD have also locked horns over two of the five bills that the Park Geun-hye administration perceives as crucial to reviving Korea’s sluggish economy.

The opposition adamantly opposes the bill that calls for extending the time period that irregular workers aged 35 and older may continue working on temporary contracts, calling it meaningless.

The current regulation mandates that companies promote temporary workers to regular workers after two years, which has instead only spurred companies to dismiss temporary workers before they complete their contracts in order to avoid increased labor costs.

The Saenuri Party, on the other hand, contends that allowing companies to keep irregular workers for two extra years will improve job security.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]

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