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Recentyly Passed Bills Detail
BILL [Summary] Amendment to the Public Official Election Act
PROPOSED BY 17 Assembly Members including Rep. Sim Sang-jeung PROPOSITION DATE 2019-04-24
COMMITTEE Special Committee on Political Reform RESOLUTION DATE OF PLENARY SESSION 2019-12-27
EFFECTIVE DATE upon promulgation
(This unofficial English-language translation is intended for reference purposes only.)


<Purpose of the original bill>

Under the existing Public Official Election Act, 253 out of a total of 300 members of the National Assembly are elected through ballots for local constituency representatives, while the remaining 47 are elected through an independent ballot for proportional representatives. The ratio of local constituency seats to proportional representative seats is 5.4:1, which is fairly high.

Under the circumstances, a large number of dead votes are cast in general elections, widening the gap between the votes of approval earned by each political party and the actual number of seats held by the party. In addition, it has long been the case that a certain political party takes most of the seats allocated to a given region, aggravating national political discord fueled by regional rivalries.

Against this backdrop, this bill seeks to amend the Public Official Election Act to lower the ratio of local constituency seats to proportional representative seats to 3:1; distribute all seats according to votes of approval earned by each party in proportional representative ballots; change the way in which proportional representative seats are allocated, while making political parties draw up multiple registers of their proportional representative candidates by region; and introduce a new rule to give proportional representative seats to those candidates in local constituency elections who were defeated by the narrowest margin in each region.


<Highlights of the original bill>

1. Articles 15 and 60

The minimum age of citizens of the Republic of Korea who have the right to vote, and can engage in an election campaign, shall be lowered, from 19 to 18.

2. Article 21 (1)

The total number of National Assembly seats shall be 300, with 225 allocated for local constituency members and 75 for proportional representative members.

3. Articles 47 (2) and 52 (4), newly inserted

When a political party recommends its candidates in an election for proportional representative seats in the National Assembly, it shall do so in accordance with the democratic procedures set by the party’s constitution, or regulations that were submitted to the National Election Commission no later than one year before election day.

When a political party registers its candidates in an election for proportional representative seats in the National Assembly, it shall also submit, along with the candidates’ lists, minutes and/or other materials that demonstrate that the candidates were recommended in accordance with the procedures submitted to the National Election Commission. Any recommendation made in violation of such procedures shall be revoked.

4. Article 47-2, newly inserted

A political party shall enter the names of all candidates for a local constituency’s representative on the list of proportional representative candidates of the region that the said constituency belongs to, as prescribed in Article 49 (2).

The party may designate up to two ranks on each region’s list of proportional representative candidates. And the party may nominate multiple candidate names within that rank(s) to select one who will also be elected, for ‘being the closest runner-up’ by comparing their marginal votes with that of the winner, in the event they lose their local constituency election in second place.

* On a political party’s list of proportional representative candidates in each region, a rank designated for being ‘elected for being the closest runner-up’ shall be taken by a candidate for a local constituency representative who was defeated by the smallest margin among those candidates nominated within the same rank.

5. Article 49(2)

Lists of candidates in an election for proportional representative seats in the National Assembly shall be drawn up for six regions covering the country.

6. Article 189 (2) and (3)

* Proportion of a political party’s approval votes in the election for proportional representatives: A
* Total number of a political party’s seats earned in the election for local constituency representatives: B
* Total number of a political party’s seats for proportional representatives: C = (300 x A) – B

First, 50 percent of a political party’s proportional representative seats earned (C/2) shall be allocated. The other half of proportional representative seats shall be given to the party in the proportion of A. Finally, the party’s total number of proportional representative seats (C) shall be divided and distributed to each region as prescribed in paragraph (3).

7. Article 189 (5)

The ‘elected for being the closest runner-up’ shall be decided by comparing the figures calculated by:
the number of runner-up’s votes earned ÷ the number of winner’s votes earned.

However, a runner-up who obtained less than 5 percent of the gross number of valid votes in the local constituency election, or whose political party won 30 percent or more of total local constituency seats allocated to the region, cannot be elected.

8. Article 200 (2)

When a person who was elected as a proportional representative ‘for being the closest runner-up’ vacates his or her seat, another qualified runner-up of the same rank on the candidates’ list shall succeed them in the seat.


<Reasons for the revision by the plenary>

This revision seeks to retain the number of local constituency seats and proportional representative seats in the National Assembly at 253 and 47, respectively, in accordance with the terms of the existing Act.

It also intends to revoke the proposed rules of being ‘elected for being the closest runner-up’ and the regional proportional representation, while stipulating special cases for the distribution of proportional representative seats in the general elections slated to be held on April 15, 2020.


< Highlights of the revision by the plenary>

1. Article 21 (1)

The total number of local constituency representative seats shall be 253, and the total number of proportional representative seats shall be 47.

2. Article 47-2, deleted

The provision on being ‘elected for being the closest runner-up’ rules shall be removed.

3. Article 49 (2), etc.

The provisions on regional distribution of proportional representative seats shall be removed.

4. Addenda, Article 3

For the general elections slated to be held on April 15, 2020, political parties shall submit their constitution and/or regulations in which their candidate recommendation procedures are stipulated in detail no later than 10 days before the opening date of applications for candidate registration.

5. Addenda, Article 4; newly inserted

In the general elections slated to be held on April 15, 2020, only 30 out of the 47 proportional representative seats shall be distributed in accordance with the quasi-mixed member proportional representation, as proposed in Article 189 of the original bill. The remaining 17 seats shall be allocated in the same way as under the existing Act.
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