The National Assembly of South Korea has just convened a nationally broadcast Deliberative Poll® to consult the public about changes in its electoral system. The Korea Broadcasting System (KBS) televised the proceedings live May 6 and 13, 2023 and reported on its initial results. Hankook Research, which has extensive experience with Deliberative Polling® in Korea, conducted the project in coordination with Stanford’s Deliberative Democracy Lab (DDL), housed at the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law. At the conclusion of the deliberations, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Kim Jin-Pyo, announced on television that “this [poll] provides an excellent guideline for the ruling party and others to negotiate and decide the rules. The reform should be finalized by the end of the second quarter of this year.” Professor James Fishkin, director of DDL, provided advice on the project and joined the broadcast to explain Deliberative Polling®.
The need to reform the parliamentary election system has received unanimous approval across political parties. During the 2022 presidential election, all candidates pledged to change the parliamentary electoral reform. To change the current system, the 21st National Assembly, elected in 2020, formed the Special Committee for Electoral Reform (Special Committee). Last April, the Special Committee came up with three agendas to be discussed in a Whole House Committee Meeting (Whole House Meeting) where 100 legislators can speak at length. However, the Whole House Meeting could not arrive at an agreed conclusion. On the last day of the three-day-long Whole House Meeting, the Special Committee announced that it designated the consortium comprised of Hankook Research and Seoul National University’s Institute for Social Development as the organizers of the Deliberative Polling to gather informed public opinion.
About the Deliberative Poll
Hankook Research recruited a national stratified random sample of the country’s voters to deliberate on parts of two weekends. 469 participants completed the deliberations. The sample was stratified by region, gender, age, and opinions on the issue (measured in a separate survey).
The participants answered some key questions in time for the concluding broadcast and then followed by completing a more detailed questionnaire. The National Assembly has members selected both from single-member districts and by proportional representation. Support for changing the election rules rose from 77% to 84% with deliberation. Support for small single-member districts (rather than multi-member districts) rose from 43% to 56%. Support for raising the proportion of the members selected by Proportional Representation (PR) went from 27% to 70%, a surprising 43-point gain. These results were presented on the broadcast, and more details about the deliberations and the results will be released soon.
A playlist of highlights from the broadcast can be viewed below: