(Dec. 2, 2007) Taiwan's Public Officials Election and Recall Law was significantly amended on November 7, 2007. The changes include revised provisions on campaign activities and expenditures and on candidate qualification requirements, as well as revised and new provisions on punishments for vote-buying. One example of the changes is that although the basic method of calculation of the maximum amount of campaign expenditures for legislators is the same – the sum resulting from the number of candidates divided by 70 percent of the total population of the constituency concerned, multiplied by a basic amount, plus a fixed amount – the basic amount has been increased from NT15 to 30 (about US$0.50-$1) and the fixed amount from NT6 million to 10 million (about US$186,000-$310,000). Campaign expenditures may still be listed as a deduction on a candidate's tax return, but the Law now specifies that not only political contributions, but also government subsidies, are to be subtracted from the outlay. Furthermore, the Law no longer includes provisions specifying the amount of individual contributions that may be made to a candidate or a party. A new article on vote buying mandates that the rules on punishing bribery can also be applied to party primaries. Candidates convicted of buying votes may be subject to a prison term of three to ten years and a fine ranging from NT1 million to 10 million; their party will also be fined.
Another key amendment concerns recounts. If the disparity between the winning and losing candidates in an election is only 0.3 percent of the total vote, the losing candidate may ask the court with jurisdiction over the election for a recount.
The Law provides that media should remain impartial and treat different parties and candidates equally or face fines of between NT200,000 to 2 million (about US$6,200-$62,000). Government departments are also forbidden to engage in campaign publicity activities; those found to have used departmental funds for such purposes will be sentenced to up to three years' imprisonment and must restore the money.
The Law also newly specifically provides that no less than half the number of each party's seats, allocated under various circumstances, is to be reserved for women. The formula for calculating the number of votes received by each party has been revised as well. Another new provision stipulates that that the election of legislators is to be held within 60 days from the day on which the President of the country declares the dissolution of the Legislative Yuan. A number of provisions of the former Law were repealed through the amendment, including those on the election of national assemblymen, provincial councilmen, and governor; on the system of canvassers; and on deprivation of voting rights of persons whose civil rights have been removed but restituted.
According to Taiwan's Central News Agency, legislators failed to reach consensus on an anti-corruption amendment aimed at imposing a stricter ethical standard on candidates. It stipulated that candidates who had been given the death penalty, a life sentence, or term of imprisonment of more than ten years, even if a final verdict had not been rendered, as well as those suspected of bribery, using violence to tamper with an election, or violating the Organized Crime Prevention Act, would be disqualified. Another rejected controversial article would have allowed two political parties to jointly put forward candidates.
The CEC issued a statement on November 9 indicating that Taiwan's seventh legislative elections would be held on January 12, 2008. (Public Officials Election and Recall Law, 6770 THE GAZETTE OF THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT 1-48 (Nov. 7, 2007), Global Legal Information Network, ID No. 199694, available at http://content.glin.gov/summary/199694 (in Chinese); Amber Wu, Parties Accede on Election Law, TAIWAN JOURNAL, Nov. 16, 2007, available at http://taiwanjournal.nat.gov.tw/ct.asp?CtNode=122&xItem=24885.)