The Korea Herald

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Bill proposed to grant foreigners political party membership

By Bak Se-hwan

Published : Jan. 12, 2017 - 15:26

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An opposition lawmaker Thursday proposed a legislative bill to allow foreign residents to become members of Korean political parties.

“Long-term foreign residents here have the right to vote in the local elections but are not permitted to acquire political party membership,” said Rep. Song Young-gil of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea, who proposed the bill, in a press release,

“Since foreigners are subject to local and national taxation as well as other responsibilities as citizens, opportunities to be registered as party members should be equally granted to them.” 

Rep. Song Young-gil of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea Rep. Song Young-gil of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea

The bill, submitted to the National Assembly on Thursday, intends to revise the Political Parties Act to allow expats registered with local authorities as foreign residents to join political parties.

Only party members can participate in primaries for national elections for the Blue House, parliament seats and local government posts.

As foreigners are allowed to vote only in local elections in South Korea, not in general or presidential elections, the bill intends to allow the non-Korean party members to participate in primaries for local elections only.

In some European countries, including Finland, the Netherlands, Ireland and Sweden, foreign residents are eligible to both vote and run for national elections. Germany and the United Kingdom allow them to join political parties.

The number of foreign residents in South Korea exceeded 2 million in 2016, accounting for 4 percent of the entire population, according to government data.

By Bak Se-hwan (sh@heraldcorp.com)