NEC hands over 44 billion won in campaign subsidies

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NEC hands over 44 billion won in campaign subsidies

The National Election Commission (NEC) said Monday it paid over 44 billion won ($36 million) of campaign subsidies to 12 political parties that registered candidates for the April 15 general elections.

According to the NEC, the ruling Democratic Party (DP) received the largest amount, 12 billion won, while the main opposition United Future Party (UFP) received 11.5 billion won.

Minsaengdang, formerly known as the Party for People’s Livelihoods, received nearly 8 billion won, while the Future Korea Party, a satellite offshoot of the UFP to win proportional lawmakers, received 6.1 billion won. The Justice Party received 2.8 billion won and the Citizen Party, a de facto satellite party of the DP for proportional representations, received 2.4 billion won.

The total amount of the campaign subsidies was decided by multiplying the number of voters for the 2016 general elections and the unit cost of 1,047 won, set for this year’s elections. The 44 billion won was distributed to the political parties that registered candidates based on the Political Funding Act, largely based on the number of lawmakers they each have.

The Minjung Party received 968.5 million won, Our Republican Party 54.4 million won and K-Eco Party 34.3 million won. The People’s Party, Pro-Park New Party and Open Minjoo Party - also known as the Open Democrats - each received 30.6 million won.

According to the NEC, special subsidies were also given to the ruling DP and the National Revolutionary Dividends Party, a party created last year by a controversial politician Huh Kyung-young.

The DP received 250 million won for nominating candidates with disabilities. According to the Political Party Funding Act, a political party that nominates candidates with disabilities for up to 3 percent of the total constituencies is eligible for the special subsidy.

Huh’s party received 840 million won for nominating female candidates en masse. According to the NEC, the National Revolutionary Dividends Party nominated 77 women, 30.4 percent of the 253 constituencies nationwide.

A political party that nominates women to 30 percent of the total constituencies is eligible to receive the special fund. To receive the special fund, a party must nominate at least 76 female candidates.

Speculations grew that Huh, a political oddball, decided to nominate women just for the money. Huh denied the criticism in an interview with MBC saying that he was not aware of the special subsidy earmarked for female candidates.

Huh, a politician and a singer, unsuccessfully ran in the 1997 and 2007 presidential races. He has said he will run again in the next presidential election after his party scores 30 victories in the upcoming general election. The party also announced 33 pledges for the general elections, mostly extremely populist, such as paying 100 million won to each newly married couple and paying 50 million won to both parents of a newborn.

His party registered 235 candidates for the 253 constituencies nationwide, the third largest number after the DP and the UFP. The NEC requires a registration fee of 15 million won per candidate, and the National Revolutionary Dividends Party paid 3.525 billion won in total.

The party is also facing criticism for having nominated sex offenders as candidates. According to the NEC, the party nominated Cho Man-jin to Naju-Hwasun of South Jeolla. Cho was convicted of sexually assaulting a teenager in 2007. Another candidate, Ahn Jong-gyu, for Gimhae B of South Gyeongsang, was convicted of child molestation.

The NEC said it will host a series of debates for the April 15 elections starting Thursday for one week.

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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