Sun, Nov 25, 2018 - Page 1 News List

2018 ELECTIONS: Voters cast ballots in record 10 referendums

By Chen Yu-fu and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer and CNA

People yesterday wait in line to vote at a polling station in Taipei.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times

Taiwanese voted in 10 referendums alongside yesterday’s nine-in-one local elections — the greatest number of referendums held simultaneously since the plebiscite mechanism was implemented in 2004.

The referendums covered a broad range of issues, including the definition of marriage in the Civil Code, the ban on food imports from five Japanese prefectures imposed after the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster in 2011 and changing the national team’s name from “Chinese Taipei” to “Taiwan” for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

A total of 19,757,067 people were eligible to vote on yesterday’s referendums, the Central Election Commission (CEC) said.

Amendments to the Referendum Act (公民投票法) in December last year lowered the threshold needed to pass a referendum.

Yesterday, at least one-quarter of the eligible voters — or 4,939,267 votes — needed to be in favor of a referendum, with the “yes” votes outnumbering the “no” votes, for a referendum to pass.

Results of the 10 referendums were not available at press time last night.

The CEC on Friday said it hoped to finish counting all the referendum ballots by midnight yesterday, meaning that the results could be announced by 2am today.

By law, referendum results must be made public within seven days, CEC Vice Chairman Chen Chao-chien (陳朝建) said.

Under the Referendum Act, a law repealed in a referendum would be rescinded three days after the result is officially announced by the commission, Chen said.

A result that calls for new legislation would require the government to submit a proposed bill no later than three months after the vote and the Legislative Yuan to complete a review before the next summer or winter break, the act says.

A result that calls for a change in policy would require the president or relevant authority to take steps to implement the change, the act says.

The referendum sponsor can apply to the Council of Grand Justices for an interpretation if they feel that the authorities have not handled the matter properly, Chen added.

A referendum that does not pass is not legally binding and no referendum can be launched on the same topic for two years, Chen said.

Prior to yesterday’s vote, the CEC made public the Executive Yuan’s opinions regarding the 10 referendums.

The Executive Yuan maintains that if the referendum passes, the government should respect the results calling for the name of the national team participating in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games to be changed from “Chinese Taipei” to “Taiwan.”

If the referendum passes, the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee would be tasked with filing applications with the International Olympic Committee, moving forward on the assumption that the nation’s Olympic membership remains valid and that Taiwanese athletes can still represent Taiwan at the Games, the Executive Yuan said.

The Executive Yuan maintains that enough thermal power plants would need to remain operational to ensure stable power output even if the referendum proposed by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) passed.

It called for power output from thermal power plants be lowered by 1 percent annually.

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