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South Korea needs smaller Assembly: ruling party headBy Kim Arin
Published : April 6, 2023 - 17:29
The head of the ruling People Power Party said on Thursday South Korea may need a smaller National Assembly.
Speaking at a meeting of the party leadership Thursday, Rep. Kim Gi-hyeon said the current 300 seats in the 75-year-old parliament “shouldn’t be considered absolute.”
“The country’s Assembly started out with 200 seats and the Constitution states 200 seats or more -- so not necessarily 300 which is kind of seen as a fixture,” he said. He added that he believes “at least 30 or so seats could be cut” starting in next year's general elections.
He cited recent poll results showing public support for reducing the number of National Assembly seats. According to one poll he referred to by Gallup Korea March 21-23, 57 percent said that they supported downsizing the number of lawmakers, while 30 percent said that the status quo is adequate and 9 percent said more Assembly seats need to be added.
Past surveys by the People Power Party's think tank, the Yeouido Institute, similarly demonstrated that the majority -- as many as 73.2 percent, according to one survey dating back to 2019 -- were against enlarging the Assembly.
The ruling party leader’s remarks come as the Assembly plenary committee is set to open next week for all sitting lawmakers to discuss reform of the electoral system.
“The Assembly represents the South Korean people and the central premise of the discussion that is about to take place is public opinion,” he said.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, main opposition Democratic Party of Korea floor leader Rep. Park Hong-keun criticized Kim’s call to cut down the number of Assembly seats as a “senseless and irresponsible ploy to pander only to popularity" to avoid a recent decline in approval ratings.
According to a National Election Commission analysis, South Korea has only one lawmaker per every 150,000 people, making it the fourth-smallest Assembly among the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development member states.
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