|Kim Dae-nyeon, right, chairman of a committee on redrawing constituencies applauds together with other participants during an opening ceremony at the National Election Commission's local office in Gwanak-gu, Seoul, Wednesday.|
By Do Je-hae
The rival parties began talks Wednesday to redraw electoral districts in line with a Constitutional Court's ruling last year that the current constituency system is against the law.
The parties formed a special committee to discuss where to redraw the boundaries of constituencies. The new constituencies will take effect from the National Assembly elections scheduled for April 2016.
Of the current 246 constituencies, 62 will be divided or merged.
The committee, under the supervision of the National Election Commission (NEC), will submit a proposal by Oct. 13 to the National Assembly after public hearings.
"The NEC will make every effort to support the operation of the new committee, which has been placed under the authority of the NEC, and achieve the overall goal of fair election reform," it said in a statement.
The National Assembly's special committee on political reform will hold a meeting on Friday to come up with a draft for readjusting constituencies.
Last year, the Constitutional Court ruled that the current system of election boundaries should be readjusted.
Additional constituencies will be established in 37 areas while 25 constituencies will be combined.
Fierce debate is expected among rival parties over how to redraw the zones as the number of Assembly seats will be affected.
"If the delimitation proceeds pursuant to the Constitutional Court ruling, it is inevitable that the number of Assembly seats will increase," said Rep. Park Beom-gye of the main opposition New Politics Alliance (NPAD). Park is a member of the Assembly's special committee on political reform.
Rep. Shim Sang-jeong of the minor Justice Party has argued that it is necessary for the number of Assembly seats be increased to 360 and to expand proportional representation.
Currently, there are 246 constituencies and 54 non-electoral seats that compose the 300-seat unicameral legislature.
Public sentiment, however, is not favorable toward expanding the Assembly's size, as the malfunctioning Assembly has often been considered a waste of taxpayer's money.