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Local assemblies are an important part of local autonomy. But they often just rubber-stamp proposals made by governors or mayors. The local government system research committee, an advisory body to the prime minister, has been discussing how to make local assemblies responsive to the real needs and wishes of local residents.

Governors and mayors, on one hand, and local assemblies, on the other, are supposed to be on an equal footing. But the Local Autonomy Law gives governors and mayors the right to convene an assembly session, and to execute the budget in an emergency situation even without an assembly vote. This has reduced local assemblies to a rubber-stamp role with regard to budgets and bills submitted by governors and mayors. The committee should propose ending this practice in principle and giving an assembly chairman the right to convene an assembly session.

An important job of local assemblies is to oversee the actions of governors and mayors and local administrations, and to write bills by taking into account the needs and wishes of local residents. But local assemblies are writing only about 5 percent of the bills that hit the assembly floor.

One reason for this situation is the law’s provision that assembly members need the consent of at least one-twelfth of the local assembly’s members if they want to submit a bill to the assembly. This provision should be reviewed so that assembly members can write and submit a bill more freely.

Most local assemblies have four regular sessions annually and their session schedule is rather tight. This makes it difficult for salaried workers to become assembly members. Local assemblies should consider increasing the number of sessions in the evening and on holidays. Companies also should work out a system that makes it easier for their employees to become local assembly members.

The committee should consider letting public servants run for local assembly elections. It also should devise ways to increase the number of women local assembly members, who now account for only about 10 percent of assembly members.