By: Kim Hyo-jin

The National Election Commission (NEC) failed to meet the deadline Tuesday for submitting a final proposal on redrawing electoral districts for next year’s general election, amid continuing rows between the rival parties over its criteria.

Parties will continue to discuss the issue in order to reach an agreement by as early as next month.

The NEC’s sub-committee, which is handling the issue, was divided into two proxy groups, representing the ruling and opposition party, although the sub-committee is not associated with the Assembly.

On Tuesday, the panel apologized for failing to meet the deadline for presenting a new map of electoral districts.

“We apologize for disappointing the public. Although we decided on the range of the number of constituencies, disagreements of opinion among the members of the panel stopped us from finishing the work,” said the committee’s chief, Kim Dae-nyeon.

He urged rival parties to see eye-to-eye on criteria for the redrawing of constituency boundaries so they can find a breakthrough.

According to the Election Law, the Assembly has to confirm the scheme by Nov. 13, five months ahead of the general election.

However, the fierce standoff between the rival parties and their influence on the NEC’s sub-committee are dimming prospects of the matter being resolved anytime soon.

After the Constitutional Court ruled that the electoral boundaries should be redrawn to address unequal representation in October, the Assembly established a body under the NEC to discuss the matter independently from their own interests.

The committee was supposed to present a specific plan about how to redraw the electoral map for the upcoming general election by Tuesday. But it reached a stalemate in discussions on redrawing the electoral map for the last two months.

Critics point out that apart from a committee chief, eight panel members of the committee were all recommended by rival parties. They have been divided into two groups and constantly voiced the stance of their party’s.

One of the panel members, Han Pyo-hwan, a professor at South Chungcheong Univeristy, used to assess candidates that stood for the Saenuri Party in the last regional election. Cha Jeong-in, also a panel member and a professor at Busan University stood as a candidate for the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) in the 16th general election.

The standoff in the committee continued while rival parties contended over whether or not to retain the status quo on non-electoral seats.

The ruling party has supported an increase in the number of constituencies and lowering non-electoral seats to maintain the 300-seat legislature. But the NPAD opposed lowering the number of seats for proportional representatives, saying it could distort public representation.