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Ahn urges parties to return campaign subsidies

Ahn Cheol-soo, head of the centrist People’s Party, called on political parties to return campaign subsidies they received from the government, saying the coronavirus pandemic has dampened conventional campaigning activities, bringing down overall costs.

“Our economy is in a total disarray and many people are pushed to their limits. (...) Are we going to spend all the taxpayers’ money at a time like this? Are we even entitled?” the politician wrote on Facebook on Friday.

“I suggest that all political parties return their National Election Commission grants, which total 44 billion won ($35.7 million),” he added.

According to the election board, a total of 12 parties received cash subsidies worth 44 billion won in total. The two largest -- the ruling Democratic Party and the main opposition United Future Party -- each got 12 billion won and 11.5 billion won. Their satellite parties, created as a ploy to earn more proportionate representative seats, received a combined 8.6 billion won.

“Those fake parties, if they earn more than 3 percent of valid votes at polls, will get another 14. 7 billion won from the NEC,” Ahn stressed.

Amid a fight against the highly contagious coronavirus, South Korea is to elect members of its parliament on April 15. The country’s total number of COVID-19 cases surpassed 10,000 on Friday, 74 days after the first confirmed case was reported.

From news reports (