At least pass the electoral map

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At least pass the electoral map

The leadership of the rivaling parties failed to narrow their differences on key pending bills and a new electoral map, even though the April 13 general election is less than two months away.

The parties hope to come to an agreement by early next week, but that may not be easy given the intransigent way the two sides are keeping to. The opposition Minjoo Party of Korea is demanding that the bills to improve human rights in North Korea and the electoral map should be settled first, while the ruling Saenuri Party wants to include the counterterrorism act in the first round of the vote.

The two parties have agreed on 253 representative seats and 47 proportional representative seats to make up the new legislative. They are also on agreement about the appropriation of constituencies. They are all ready to approve the new electoral map, except it has been linked to other pending legislations like the counterterrorism act, four bills on labor reform and the service sector advance bill.

The ruling party wants to package the long-delayed bills with the electoral map. The party has already received a command from President Park Geun-hye. She told the party chairman, Kim Moo-sung, that people won’t comprehend the legislature passing the electoral map while neglecting bills related to public lives and the economy.

The bills must be passed as soon as possible, as danger looms on both the economic and security fronts. If the electoral map passes, the legislature, with not many days left in its tenure, can forget about doing further work, especially with troubles in the opposition.

The Minjoo Party is wrong to insist the electoral-map bill be settled first, while delaying bills on the economy and security. Yet it is also wrong to hold the electoral map as a hostage.

According to election law, authorities must start drawing up a candidate list for 150,000 overseas Korean citizens from Feb. 24. Without a new map ready by then, the entire general election schedule could be interrupted.

Korea has been a rare case among democratic societies to be without legal constituencies for 50 days. If a package deal is not possible, we should at least get the electoral map going.

JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 20, Page 26

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