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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Jan. 11)

Editorials from Korean dailies 07:06 January 11, 2022

Term limits for lawmakers
Time for parties to discuss political reform agenda

Last week, an ad hoc political reform committee within the ruling Democratic Party of Korea proposed imposing a term limit on lawmakers. The proposal, which should be adopted through the revision of the party constitution, would limit lawmakers to three four-year terms in office in the same constituency. If the proposal is adopted, those who are subject to the new rule will be barred from applying for party nominations in their respective constituencies from the 2024 parliamentary election.

The proposal has a point, considering that many lawmakers in the country's southwestern and southeastern provinces have won elections largely based on regional rivalry. It will surely serve as an occasion for parties to give up their vested rights and make way for political rookies. It's no secret that some legislators elected for consecutive terms have controlled their local political arena while becoming involved in corruption cases.

Of course, the proposal is not without its problems. For one thing, limiting lawmakers to three terms may be unconstitutional. Few countries around the world impose term limits on lawmakers, regardless of whether they adhere to a parliamentary or presidential system. And lawmakers might face problems in carrying out their duties due to their insufficient political experience. This could weaken the legislature's power to hold the executive branch in check.

Well-timed political reform is an unavoidable task. On this occasion, it's also necessary to limit local council members to three terms. At the same time, the major political parties should discuss cutting the number of lawmakers and depriving them of privileges. Italy is a case in point in this matter. Italians voted in 2020 to cut the number of lawmakers by about one third. In 2012, our political parties had reached a tentative agreement to cut the number of legislators by 100, but the agreement fell through at the last minute. The ruling party should come forward to discuss political reform agenda with opposition parties so that the public can hold some hope for the future.

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