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Political donations decline by one-third in 2009: election watchdog

All Headlines 17:50 April 08, 2010

SEOUL, April 8 (Yonhap) -- Political donations fell by one-third last year, bottoming out at their lowest level in 10 years, the national election watchdog said Thursday, most likely a result of the economic downturn in a non-election year.

Contributions to lawmakers fell 35 percent to 41.1 billion won (US$36.6 million) in 2009, compared to 63.4 billion won the previous year, the National Election Commission said in an annual report.

The figure is the lowest since 1999.

The amount of legally allowed fund-raising differs depending on whether an election is held that year. Lawmakers can raise up to 300 million won in each election year, but are limited to 190 million won in non-election years.

Election watchers say the financial crisis also likely affected potential donors.

Legislators of the ruling Grand National Party (GNP) suffered the most, as their combined contributions were cut by 39.8 percent to 24 billion won last year from 40 billion won in 2008, the report showed.

Contributions to the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) declined by 30.9 percent to 12 billion won, and donations for other minor opposition parties -- the Liberal Forward Party and the Democratic Labor Party (DLP) -- shrank by 30.4 percent and 6.6 percent, respectively, to 1.93 billion won and to 937 million won.

The Pro-Park Geun-hye Alliance, which had split away from the ruling party, was an exception, raising 495 million won, a 92 percent rise from 258 million won in 2008. The party was formed by members loyal to Park Geun-hye, who competed against President Lee Myung-bak for the GNP's nomination in 2007.

By individual, Rep. Park Jie-won of the DP, who served as a chief of staff for former President Kim Dae-jung, received the largest amount of donations with 221 million won. Kwon Young-ghil of the DLP came in second with 203 million won, followed by the DLP's Hong Hee-deok with 199.5 million won.

sshim@yna.co.kr
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