Although the Public Official Election Act states that proportional representatives may maintain their status if a party is dissolved, the NEC ruled that the clause does not apply as the UPP was disbanded involuntarily.
The 31 members of local assemblies who were elected directly, however, will maintain their status as independents.
As with the former UPP National Assembly members, those affected by Monday’s decision plan to take legal action.
“The NEC ignored its constitutional duty and participated in the political trial led by the Constitutional Court,” the affected individuals said.
“The NEC’s decision is invalid and illegal. We will apply for an injunction (against) the decision, and filed suit to confirm (our) status as members of local assemblies.”
The UPP was disbanded Friday following the Constitutional Court’s ruling that its ultimate aim was to establish a North Korean-style socialist state in South Korea. The five UPP National Assembly members, including two proportional representatives, were dismissed immediately.
|National Election Commission Chairman Lee In-bok presides over the meeting that ruled to remove proportional representatives of the defunct Unified Progressive Party from local assemblies in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi Province, on Monday. The UPP was dissolved Friday following the ruling by the Constitutional Court. (Ahn Hoon/The Korea Herald)|
The NEC is also tracking government subsidies given to the UPP. The defunct party is required to return any remaining funds to the government within two months.
However, the UPP is said to have little to no money remaining in its accounts. With the party’s assets having stood at about 1.3 billion ($1.2 million) in June, the NEC plans to request a criminal investigation if its analysis turns up evidence that the funds were hidden ahead of the Constitutional Court’s ruling.
As the government takes steps to erase the UPP, the Constitutional Court’s decision is making ripples across the political arena.
The ruling Saenuri Party raised an attack against the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy for its ties with the UPP.
“The NPAD, which allied with the UPP, should sever ties with worn-out progressives who habitually (carry out) acts that are pro-North Korean and destroy the Constitution,” Saenuri Party chairman Rep. Kim Moo-sung said.
Others in the ruling party called for tougher regulations against those linked to the UPP. Rep. Ha Tae-keung called on the party to draw up regulations to prevent former UPP lawmakers from regaining their parliamentary seats, citing the revision proposed by Rep. Kim Jin-tae.
Kim’s proposal calls for preventing members of the National Assembly, local assemblies and chiefs of local governments belonging to a disbanded party from running for public office for 10 years.
Ha also called for the Public Official Election Act to be toughened to make clear any connections between candidates for public office and the UPP. Ha’s suggestions include making it compulsory for those who served in managerial positions within the UPP or ran as a UPP candidate to state such experience in promotion materials.
By Choi He-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org)