Thu, Oct 02, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Executive Yuan releases election-law amendments

CABINET Voting district reforms were not presented, and are to wait until the central government is ready to have the people vote on constitutional amendments

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

In a bid to keep elections clean, political parties nominating convicts as potential candidates for civil servant elections would face punishment under draft amendments to the Election and Recall Law (選罷法) proposed by the Executive Yuan yesterday.

The draft amendments, however, failed to touch on the more contentious issue of the single-member district, two-vote system even though President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) promised to voters to replace the current multi-member district, one-vote electoral rules with sucha a system.

The Cabinet hopes to implement the revisions during the legislative elections in December next year if the legislature passes the amendments during the current or next legislative session.

Addressing the weekly closed-door Cabinet meeting, Minister without Portfolio Yeh Jiunn-rong (葉俊榮), who was in charge of reviewing the draft, said that the Cabinet did not backpeddle on Chen's campaign pledge.

"While we could've amended the two-vote system in the Election and Recall Law, we thought it was a better idea to revamp it while amending the Constitution to downsize the legislature, and change the number of seats reserved for woman legislators," Yeh said.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has been campaigning for constitutional reforms that would halve the legislative seats from the current 225 to 115 and increase the percentage of seats "for woman only" from the current 10 percent to 25 percent.

According to Yeh, the draft amendments cover vote-buying, bribing rival candidates to drop out of elections and committing violent crimes when running for election to adminnstrative positions such as city mayor. Also a party nominating a candidate with a record of having commited violent crime would face a fine of between NT$500,000 and NT$5 million.

"It's established government policy to maintain a clean election. That's why we have strengthened this particular part [of the law]," Yeh said.

The draft would also impose a fine of between NT$1 million and NT$10 million on those buying votes or bribing rival candidates to drop out of a race.

This particular article is expected to serve as an effective deterrent to a Kaohsiung City Council-like vote-buying scandal.

The Supreme Court upheld a verdict by the Taiwan High Court and the Kaohsiung District Court last Friday sentencing Kaohsiung City Council Speaker Chu An-hsiung (朱安雄) to 22 months in prison for vote-buying in the city-council election last December.

The draft also calls for the lifting of a ban on policeofficers and soldiers running in elections for public office.

The draft, however, would ban members of central and local election committees from stumping for any particular candidate to keep election personnel impartial.

To avoid opinion polls swaying the elections, the draft mandates that political parties and individuals should not publish any opinion surveys 10 days before an election day.

The draft also stipulates that the media should provide time slots and print space for candidates to run their campaign promotions in a fair and equal manner.

Finally, the draft would require candidates to honestly report election spending instead of setting a ceiling for campaign expenditure.

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