A surreal Assembly

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A surreal Assembly

A sad — and surreal — drama has unfolded in the National Assembly again. Amid a heated battle to gain more seats in next April’s general election, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have been repeating familiar scenes — this time engrossed with staging endless filibusters to prevent a controversial electoral reform bill from passing the legislature.

After the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) threatened to filibuster the bill — aimed at allocating proportionate seats in accordance with the votes each party got instead of relying on the number of seats each party won from constituencies — the ruling Democratic Party (DP) chose to split the extraordinary session of the Assembly by two to three days to take advantage of the rules that legislators cannot filibuster against the same bill twice.

As a result, the main hall of the legislature was full of shouting and insults hurled at opponents. National Assembly speaker Moon Hee-sang, a ruling party member, even had to endure mean attacks from opposition lawmakers. If this is not a black comedy, what would be?
Due to the tense battle between the LKP and the DP, the revised bill is in tatters. In the beginning, the revision was aimed at evening out the playing field by giving more proportional seats to minor parties. But the ruling party’s scheme to push for electoral reform with the help from four minor opposition parties could wreck havoc after the main opposition cleverly came up with the idea of establishing a satellite party not to lose its proportional seats as a result of the revised bill.

The so-called “four-plus-one” consultative body vehemently criticized the main opposition LKP on Christmas Day for devising such a “creative” way to detour the electoral reform which would cost many of its proportionate seats if the revised bill is passed.

If even the DP joins the move by creating its own satellite party to get more proportional seats, the electoral reform would be meaningless, as the two major parties will take nearly all of the proportionate seats. Why all the fuss if the bill ends up with nearly the same results as in the past?

That fuss shows a sad portrait of our politics which lacks dialogue and compromise. The DP’s move to fix the rules of the game with the support from the four sidekicks cannot be pardoned no matter what. If the bill loses its otherwise-fair cause, it will only leave another bad precedent in the history of our democracy.

JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 26, Page 30
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