A proposal to reform the legislature would be the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) main theme for the January legislative elections, the party said yesterday in a press conference.
The two-phase proposal, which aims to improve legislative efficiency and change the legislative electoral system, was approved by the DPP’s Central Standing Committee yesterday and would be the party’s main demand to appeal for voter support, former DPP legislator Lin Cho-shui (林濁水) told reporters.
A complete reform of the legislature is necessary because it has long been seen as flawed by the public with its bad system design, including negotiation of party caucuses, the realignment of committee members every six months, unequal votes and lack of respect for minority parties, Lin said.
The first phase would seek to establish respect for the seniority of committee members, authorize legislators to investigate topics of public concern and hold public hearings and reaffirm transparency and the avoidance of conflicts of interest for all legislators, Lin said.
“The first stage would be easier to achieve because it focuses on the reform of internal regulations or practices,” Lin said, adding that the current flawed design dated back to the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government’s deliberate attempt to weaken the legislature during the Martial Law era.
The second phase is expected to be much more difficult, as it would change the current electoral system, under which legislators are elected from districts of drastically different populations, which leads to the phenomenon of “votes of unequal values.”
For example, Lin said, the lone legislator from Matsu represents a population of 9,000, while a legislator from Taiwan proper represents an average of 300,000 people.
However, a change in the legislative electoral system, the redrawing of constituency maps in particular, is a sensitive and complex issue, which is why it would not be initiated before a consensus is reached, he added.
The DPP believes the time is ripe for such reforms, as the KMT, which at one point influenced more than 75 percent of seats in the Seventh Legislative Yuan, will no longer enjoy a dominant majority after the January legislative elections, Lin said.
“A KMT that enjoys a strong majority is much less likely to work with the DPP on such bold initiatives,” Lin said.
The proposal is not a finished product yet, as DPP members have divergent ideas about the second phase, he said, adding that he plans to present a white paper on electoral reform, which would represent his personal views, later this month.