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Bareun Party pushes to stop parties from election profiteering

The minor conservative opposition Bareun Party on Monday proposed a bill to plug the regulatory loophole that has allowed political parties to receive more than what they actually spent on an election in state subsidies.

The move comes after its three larger rivals -- the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, main opposition Liberty Korea Party and centrist minor opposition People’s Party -- reportedly reclaimed extra money from the election committee after this year’s presidential election in May. 

Bareun Party (Yonhap)
Bareun Party (Yonhap)

It claims the three abused the nation’s election system in which the government covers the costs of campaigning through party subsidies and reimbursements. They have reported to the state campaign expenses without excluding the subsidies they had received for this year’s presidential election.

If a candidate wins the election or over 15 percent of valid votes, the party is reimbursed fully, while those getting more than 10 percent but less than 15 percent of ballots are reimbursed for half their election spending, according to the law.

According to data from the Bareun Party, the ruling Democratic Party submitted that they had spent a total of 48.3 billion won ($42.8 million), but did not subtract the 11.9 billion won subsidy they had received. They were refunded a total of 47.1 billion won from the election committee, earning an extra 13.1 billion won.

The main opposition Liberty Korea Party reported 34.1 billion won in total spending to the election committee, not excluding subsidies of 11.9 billion won. They earned an extra 10.3 billion won. The centrist minor People’s Party gained an additional 8.6 billion won from double-claiming election expenses.

As presidential candidates from the Bareun Party and far-left Justice Party candidates garnered 6.8 and 6.2 percent of votes in the May election, respectively, they were not able to claim for reimbursement.

While the 20 members of the Bareun Party took part in tabling the revision bill, it is the first time for a political party to point out such flaws of the law. There have been previous requests to change the law from the National Election Commission in 2013, but the calls went unheeded.

The minor conservative bloc’s proposal aims to add a new clause to require that parties request for reimbursement of their election expenses excluding government subsidies.

“It is the time for us to fundamentally put an end to political parties earning money via taxpayers,” Rep Choung Byoung-gug of the Bareun Party said.

By Jo He-rim( herim@heraldcorp.com)
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