Electoral map finally submitted 139 days late

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Electoral map finally submitted 139 days late

A redistricting committee of the nation’s election watchdog submitted a new constituency map for the parliament’s approval Sunday, just 45 days ahead of the April 13 general election.

The breakthrough came 139 days after a Oct. 13, 2015 deadline set by the Constitutional Court after it ruled the current electoral map unconstitutional because of disproportions in voting populations. The court ordered the National Assembly to create a new constituency map, which local lawmakers failed to meet because they couldn’t agree on various issues.

As of Jan. 1, 2016, the existing electoral map became invalid.

Following the National Election Commission’s submission of the new map Sunday morning, the National Assembly’s Security & Public Administration Committee was scheduled to meet later that night to vote whether or not to approve it and pass it on to Monday’s plenary assembly.

Sunday’s map was largely identical to the map that the ruling and opposition parties said they agreed to last Tuesday.

While the commission seemed convinced that the committee would give the green light to the new map and pass it on to the National Assembly for a vote, it remained unclear whether local lawmakers would get a chance to vote this week.

An ongoing filibuster led by opposition lawmakers over a contentious counterterrorism bill sponsored by the ruling Saenuri Party has paralyzed the National Assembly for about a week.

Opposition lawmakers from the main Minjoo Party of Korea believe the bill yields too much authority to the National Intelligence Service (NIS), which has a notorious record of meddling in political affairs.

The filibuster was in its sixth day when the map was finalized and submitted Sunday, with at least 14 liberal lawmakers taking to the podium in sequence.

As the map was nearing its finalization, lawmakers of the Minjoo Party convened Friday to discuss their next move. They said in a briefing afterwards that there was “no dead-end” to their filibuster, and vowed not to call it off until the Saenuri Party “fully accepts” their proposals.

The main opposition party wants the bill to prohibit the NIS from illegally eavesdropping or wiretapping people’s electronic devices. The Saenuri has counterattacked by asserting that the bill includes strong safeguards to prevent abuse.

Under the new electoral map, the total number of seats in the National Assembly will remain at 300, 253 of which will represent constituencies and the remainder are allotted for proportional representatives. Seoul will gain one more electoral district, bringing its total to 49. Gyeonggi will have 60 districts, gaining eight.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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