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(Apr 02, 2008) On March 10, 2008, Taiwan's Ministry of the Interior made public proposed amendments to the 2003 Referendum Act that would lower the bar for initiating and passing referenda and submitted them to the Interior Committee of the Legislative Yuan. Under the proposal, the required number of initiators for a referendum would be reduced from 0.5 percent to 0.03 percent of the number of eligible voters in the latest presidential election; the required number of sponsors for a referendum petition would be reduced from 5 percent to 1.5 percent of the number of eligible voters in the latest presidential election; and for passage of the referendum the number of voters who vote in favor of it would have to exceed the number of those against it and also reach 25 percent of the number of eligible voters, in contrast to the current requirement that the turnout rate reach 50 percent. For referenda on territorial changes or constitutional reform, however, the 50 percent threshold for passage would still apply. The proposed amendments would also eliminate the ban on holding two referenda on the same issue within a three-year period. A similar set of draft amendments had been submitted in July 2005, but the previous legislature, whose session ended in January 2008, had shelved them.

The opposition Kuomintang (KMT) legislators, comprising more than 70 percent of the legislature, immediately raised objections to the proposal on the grounds that if it is adopted, the hurdles for passage of referenda would become too low. Taiwan's third referendum, on a bid to join the United Nations, is expected to be held on March 22, 2008, in tandem with the presidential election. (CNA: Interior Ministry Proposes Lowering Referendum Hurdles, CENTRAL NEWS AGENCY, Mar. 11, 2008, Open Source Center No. CPP20080311968128; Neijheng Bu ti gong tou fa menlan sioujheng Lan Ying li wei pi guo di [Ministry of Interior proposes revision of Referendum Act thresholds, Pan-Blue legislator criticizes them as too low], JHONG SHIH DIANZIH BAO, Mar. 10, 2008, available at http://chinatimes.com/.)

Author: Wendy Zeldin More by this author
Topic: Elections and politics More on this topic
Jurisdiction: Taiwan More about this jurisdiction

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Last updated: 04/02/2008