Conservative Saenuri Party Derails Bill to Allow 18-Year-Olds Right to Vote

Conservative Saenuri Party Derails Bill to Allow 18-Year-Olds Right to Vote

SEOUL, Jan. 11 (Yonhap) -- The parliament's discussion on lowering the minimum election age to 18 faced hurdles on Wednesday, as the ruling Saenuri Party said the issue should be agreed upon by party leaders first.

   While the bill was approved at a sub-committee of the National Assembly's Security and Public Administration Committee on Monday, Saenuri said the plan should be held off for time being. The bill needs to be officially approved by the committee, and then must be passed by the judiciary committee before being put to a parliamentary vote at a plenary session.

   National Assembly sources, however, said that unless Saenuri agrees to a change that could be disadvantageous to itself, there is little chance of the motion getting traction.

   "Any change related to voting has traditionally required approval from all parties," an insider pointed out.

   If the age change is implemented, it would increase the number of eligible voters by some 610,000, which could play a decisive role in the upcoming election which is widely expected to be a tight race. Since young voters in South Korea tend to vote for liberal candidates, Saenuri which is a conservative party will not likely benefit from the lowering of the voting age.

   South Korea may hold an early presidential election, which originally is scheduled for December 2017, if the Constitutional Court upholds the parliamentary impeachment of President Park Geun-hye.

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