Do you know what day April 3rd, 2019 is? It is a day when by-elections will be held in Chang-won, Tong-yeong and Go-seong. Although it is a small election, the opposition party, excluding the Liberty Korea Party, is trying to negotiate with the Democratic Party, demanding a Mixed-Member Proposal. Then, what is a Mixed-Member Proposal, and why are political parties trying to apply the system?
What is MMP
In short, the MMP is a system that links to the seats instead of the existing method of calculating local elections and party-list proportional representation separately. For example, if an election is carried out assuming that the total number of seats is 100 seats, the total number of seats in each political party is determined by party approval ratings in principle. If Party A is 35% and Party B is 25%, Party A has 35 seats and Party B has 25 seats. The result adds to the outcome of local elections. If Party A has 30 elected people in the local election, 30 will automatically be elected and the remaining 5 seats will be allocated according to the order of proportional representation candidates. Of course, the problem that arises here is that there are more seats from a local election than the allocated seats based on the party's approval rating. Currently, Germany, which implemented the MMP, recognized additional parliamentary seats based on the principle that "Seats from the local election cannot be eliminated." In the case of Korea, more discussion is expected if the MMP is applied in the actual election.
Functions of MMP
The MMP is now seen as the best way to prevent a wasted vote in that it combines parliamentary elections with proportional elections for political parties. The wasted vote literally means a dead and useless vote. This is called a "wasted vote" because a candidate who has votes cast for he or she does not reflect the will of voters if he or she fails to win. The problem with this wasted vote is that it distorts the will of the electorate. In the case of a single-member electorate system and majority representation, the single candidate who received the most votes in one constituency is elected. On the surface, it seems most intuitive and democratic. However, there are many problems here. Suppose, for example, four candidates ran in a single-member electorate election. There will be an approximate ranking of four candidates when the results of the polls are announced. When one finds out that a candidate whom he or she supports is now in fourth place, he or she will probably be frustrated. The chances of winning the election are slim, even if they choose someone they support, so they vote for the first or second-place candidate who has similar tendencies as the candidate they support. It is difficult to properly reflect the public's opinions because of the anti-wasted vote sentiment in such a vote system. Moreover, with three or four candidates on the list, it is difficult for anyone to win the top spot overwhelmingly. That is why they are usually elected just in the 40% range. This approval rating is, of course, the most popular one. However, how can the candidate say that he or she represents all of the people, when more than 50% of voters oppose him or her? It seems that MMP can solve these problems. In addition, it is possible for several political parties to make inroads into the National Assembly. Under the single-member electorate system and majority representation, the National Assembly will eventually have to go to a two-party system. However, the 21st century is societally diverse. The two parties cannot represent the voice of everyone and do not properly reflect it. On the other hand, the MMP will allow minority parties to make inroads into the National Assembly to reflect the opinions of a much wider variety of people in the actual voting on laws. Of course, in such a multi-party system, it can be difficult to expedite the process of bills or push policies because certain parties find it difficult to hold a majority. However, if the various parties agree, talk, communicate and deal with the bill, they will be able to do it properly, though it might take time.
MMP in Foreign Countries
Currently, MMP is used in Germany and New Zealand. In Germany, in principle there are a total of 598 lawmakers, with 299 lawmakers from local elections and 299 members from political parties. The first round of voting will be held in local elections and the second round of voting will be held in the party that supports it. Here, they will first elect members in local elections and compare the number of lawmakers allocated according to the population proportion for each state. Political parties with less than 5% of the vote nationwide or less than 3 constituencies do not win party-list seats. The measure is to elect proportional representatives by removing seats from all the seats the party won since then. As mentioned above, Germany recognizes additional parliamentary seats based on the principle that "Seats from local election cannot be eliminated." New Zealand has applied the same principles as Germany's electoral system, but it allocates seats on a national level, rather than allocating proportional representation on a per-state basis.
Claims in the Political Community
Before 2018, only liberal politicians claimed it. In fact, there have been endless questions in the Republic of Korea that the wasted vote or popular opinion is not properly reflected in the general elections. The solution proposed is a runoff election, a preferential voting system and the MMP. However, the runoff election was scrapped because it required a lot of money and only improved the legitimacy of the winning candidate and failed to function. Even in the case of the preferential voting system, the method of selecting a candidate's preferred ranking is very inconvenient, and not only is it difficult for the general public to vote but it is also expected that the method of aggregation will become very complicated, which eventually led to the MMP becoming the biggest alternative. In the 2012 presidential election, Moon Jae-in promised that MMP will be the system for general elections. The people were positive about the MMP, which can fully reflect their opinions. Lawmakers with their political lives in the system have always been conservative about it.
In December 2018, the five parties agreed on the reorganization of the election system as follows:
1. We will actively review specific measures for introducing MMP.
2. The party shall follow the agreement of the Special Committee on Political Reform on the expansion of proportional representation, the proportion of seats in local constituencies, the number of lawmakers, and the method of selecting members of local constituencies.
3. We are actively considering the introduction of a system to ease the local structure.
4. The bill on reforming the electoral system is agreed upon in the extraordinary session of the National Assembly in January.
5. Extend the duration of the activities of the Special Committee on Political Reform.
6. As soon as the bill on reforming the electoral system is revised, the government will immediately begin discussing a one-point constitutional amendment to reform the power structure.
However, the proposed election system did not come due to strong opposition from the Liberty Korea Party even during the extraordinary session in January 2019. However, as the four parties successfully reached an agreement, they continued to discuss specific measures to implement the MMP. What has been discussed so far is a plan to "apply the MMP first, but keep the number of lawmakers unchanged at 300”, instead of reducing the number of seats in the district from the current 253 to 225 and increasing the proportional representation ratio by adjusting the current 47 seats to 75. In addition, the allocation of parliamentary seats reflects the party's voting rate, fills the remaining half of the seats, and then distributes the remaining seats according to the party's voting rate. This method is seen as a result of reflecting public opinion that dislikes increasing the number of parliamentary seats.
Effect of MMP in Korea
Although there may be many side effects and problems, there are solutions and the ability to reflect the will of the people is expected to work well in a democracy. Indeed, the disproportionality of general elections from 1981 to 2010 was 21.97%, a very serious level, according to Arend Lijphart’s book, "Patterns of Democracy." The disproportionality here is the "weight of voters' votes that are not reflected in the actual number of seats." In other words, more than 20% of voters' intentions were either not reflected at all or were misrepresented. The Republic of Korea has so far elected a majority of its lawmakers through the single-member electorate system and majority representation. As a result, two major parties have emerged and there have been many proposals that have been ignored by the majority party, although the minority party always calls for political reform. However, if the MMP is established through this opportunity, it is expected that political culture in the future will change. Election through the MMP is somewhat surmised through simulations analyzing previous elections through the current method. In the most recent 20th general elections, the Saenuri Party had 122 seats, along with 123 seats from the Democratic Party, 38 seats from the People's Party, and 6 seats from the Justice Party. Analysis of the election under the currently agreed MMP plan shows 109 seats for the Saenuri Party, 113 seats for the Democratic Party, 43 seats for the People's Party, and 12 seats for the Justice Party. In other words, it is actually possible to confirm that the number of seats in the minority party is properly reflected and that the majority's margin is reduced.
So far, we have learned about MMP. MMP is a good way to reflect the will of the people in that it prevents wasted votes in a democratic system. In particular, the Republic of Korea should ensure that the democracy that it has achieved is implemented more properly, as the struggle for democratization has been difficult. However, it is difficult to expect proper implementation due to the current establishment of the Liberty Korea Party. CAH hopes that such an advanced system will be settled and become a country that can reflect the will of the people.< 저작권자 © 중앙헤럴드 무단전재 및 재배포금지 >