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Taiwan: Taipei Ban on Election Banners and Flags

(Sept. 17, 2014) As of August 29, 2014, Taipei City imposed a ban on the promotional banners and flags typically displayed during election campaigns in Taiwan. The purpose of the ban is to minimize visual pollution and achieve, in the words of a city government official, “a pollution-free campaign environment,” during the upcoming landmark “seven-in-one” elections of public officials. (Taipei City Bans Election Banners, Flags, TAIWAN TODAY (Aug. 28, 2014).) The official added, “[w]e hope other parts of Taiwan will also embrace this meaningful measure” and noted that the measure also enhances citizens’ safety, because they “will no longer be forced to dodge fallen flags or have their view obstructed by banners while driving.” (Id.)

The “seven-in-one” elections (ch’i ho hsüan-chü) are so called because they will combine into one election all seven elections of local officials to be held in the same year, 2014, a plan that was put forward by Taiwan’s legislature in 2008 with a view to saving election costs. (Katherine Wei, DPP Announces 2014 Election Nominees, CHINA POST (Nov. 21, 2013).) The offices up for election include mayors of special municipalities, councilors of special municipalities, provincial city and county magistrates, provincial city and county councilors, township chiefs, township councilors, and borough and village chiefs. (What Are the Seven-in-One Elections? [in Chinese], TAIPEI TSUI TA website (last visited Sept. 10, 2014); Taipei City Bans Election Banners, Flags, supra.)

The banner and flag ban in Taipei was instituted when the city councilors voted on August 27 to remove article 7 from the Taipei Municipality Autonomous Regulations on Election Advertising Objects. According to the deleted provision, during lawful campaign periods candidates and parties could display banners and flags at designated public venues without having to apply to do so. (Taipei City Bans Election Banners, Flags, supra.)

The Regulations define election advertising objects as advertising objects that may record, e.g., the candidate’s name, picture, election event, or slogans for the purpose of establishing an image, gaining recognition, and competing for votes on the part of a political party or of individuals or groups who intend to participate in or support elections and that also are installed in/on or appended to this city’s public facilities, buildings, vehicles, privately or publicly owned vacant land during the election campaign period prior to presidential and vice presidential elections and elections for public officials. (Taipei shih ching-hsüan kuang-kao wu kuan-li tzu-chih t’iao-li [Taipei Municipality Autonomous Regulations on Management of Election Advertising Objects] (as amended on Aug. 27, 2014), art. 2 ¶ 1.)

The seven-in-one elections, the “largest ever nationwide local-level elections,” are scheduled to occur on November 29, with “a record 11,130 positions” being contested. (Taipei City Bans Election Banners, Flags, supra; Central Election Commission Discusses Adoption of Schedule for 2014 Local PublicServants Elections Voting Date and Work [in Chinese], Taiwan Central Election Commission website (Jan. 21, 2014).)