The reform committee of the main opposition party has opened a political Pandora’s Box by recommending a wholesale reorganization of electoral districts and proportional representatives, a plan that would ultimately increase the number of seats in the National Assembly by nearly a fourth. The New Politics Alliance for Democracy’s (NPAD) reform committee, headed by Kim Sang-gon, a liberal icon in the education community, presented a plan on Sunday that would redraw the current electoral map. It is based on an earlier proposal by the National Election Commission. In October, the Constitutional Court ruled the current electoral constituency map unconstitutional, saying it resulted in unequal representation caused by population changes. The National Election Commission presented its plan in February and the National Assembly created a special committee in March to discuss the issue. The redistricting is supposed to be finalized by October.
As of now, the National Assembly has 300 seats and 264 of them are for representatives of geographical constituencies. The remaining 36 are for proportional representatives picked by the major parties. In a general election, each voter casts a separate ballot for a party, and the number of proportional representatives a party can name is determined by the amount of support it gets in that vote. Some of the proportional representatives are assigned to represent certain sectors of society, such as women or teachers.
The National Election Commission in February proposed an increase in proportional representatives: a two-to-one ratio between lawmakers voted for by constituencies and proportional representatives. It also called for proportional representatives to be based on regional votes. A political party that wins more than 30 percent of votes in a region would be able to name a proportional representative for that region, according to the plan.