Rival parties agree to reduce number of elections this yearUpdated: 2014-01-17 PM 8:26:53 (KST)
It was the last thing Korea's major political parties wanted, but with the removal of three lawmakers on Thursday, by-elections will have to be held.
The lawmakers told to clear their desks were found guilty of illegal electioneering ahead of the 2012 general elections.
One of the three was a proportional representative, which means the person next in line on the ruling party's proportional representation ticket will automatically assume her position.
But the constituencies previously represented by the two other lawmakers will have to elect a new lawmaker in July.
At least six other lawmakers face the possibility of losing their seats on similar illegal electioneering charges and are awaiting the Supreme Court's final verdict.
Political watchers say the shake-up means up to 15 seats could be up for grabs for the July by-election.
By-elections are usually held twice a year in April and in October, but this year the first by-election should be held on July 30th.
This is because of a special provision that says a by-election should be held the first Wednesday that falls 50 days after local elections.
This means, theoretically, that Korea will have three elections in the span of five months: the June 4th local elections, a by-election on July 30th, and another by-election on October 29th.
The rival parties agree that they should reduce the number of elections from the current three to two, but they differ on how to go about it.
The ruling Saenuri Party says the June local elections and the July by-election should be combined and held together in June.
But the main opposition Democratic Party says the two by-elections should be combined and held in October.
The rival parties have agreed to discuss the matter next week at the special parliamentary committee to reform politics.
Although both parties say their proposal is the best to reduce administrative costs and voter fatigue, pundits say their own political interests have certainly been taken into consideration.
Kim Yeon-ji, Arirang News."
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