Ichiro Ozawa, the DPJ’s Secretary General, has strongly pushed a proposal that would grant local suffrage to the over 900,000 foreigners with permanent residency status . After the DPJ took power in August 2009, it seemed briefly that, with his support,
Ironically, it may have been Mindan’s crucial support for voting rights that has helped solidify the opposition to Ozawa’s proposal. Opponents’ most urgent criticism is that foreigner suffrage would provide an avenue for foreign governments to influence internal affairs ; as Mindan receives operating funds from the South Korean government , its success in pushing the issue this far seems to prove the opponents’ point.
In actuality, this argument completely mischaracterizes Mindan’s accomplishment, and the implications of foreign suffrage. In the long term, Mindan’s movement would not primarily benefit
Furthermore, the permanent foreign resident community is increasingly diverse: Chinese, Brazilians and Filipinos all make up a growing share . Although Koreans historically have held a supermajority, in the future, no single nationality will dominate
There are plenty of legitimate arguments for and against foreigner voting rights, but there is no evidence to support that interference by foreign governments is one of them. Hopefully proponents will debunk this baseless criticism, and voters and lawmakers will consider the proposal on its actual merits and demerits, not on ill-reasoned paranoia.
* Around 40 countries allow some form of non-citizen suffrage. EU member nations permit foreign residents who hold citizenship in another EU country to vote in local elections; a smaller number of countries, including Korea, Venezuela, and Belgium grant local voting rights to foreigners who have met a multi-year residency requirement and
1. Supreme Court of
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