Thu, Nov 11, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Executive Yuan wants to change referendum rules

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Executive Yuan is seeking to lower the petition and signature threshold of national referendums and abolish the Referendum Review Committee (公投審議委員會) established under the Referendum Law (公投法), following its defeat in attempting to veto the new legislation passed by the pan-blue dominated legislature a year ago.

Minister without Portfolio Hsu Chi-hsiung (許志雄) yesterday called the preliminary review meeting to discuss the proposed draft amendments to the Referendum Law and reach eight consensuses.

Committee members agreed to do away with the Referendum Review Committee, which they called running counter to the spirit of direct democracy.

They proposed to empower the Central Election Commission (CEC) and its local offices to handle referendum affairs. The committee is established under the law to allow a way to screen referendum topics. Committee members also approved to lower the threshold of petition filing to 0.05 percent, or about 8,000 people, of eligible voters in the latest presidential polls. The law stipulates that a successful referendum petition needs 0.5 percent, or about 80,000 people, of eligible voters.

The law also mandates that signatures of 5 percent of the electorate joining in the latest presidential election, or approximately 800,000 signatures, are needed before the referendum petition can be screened by the Referendum Review Committee. The Cabinet hopes to lower it to 2 percent, or about 300,000, for national referendum and 5 percent for the initiative of constitutional amendment.

While the government is prohibited from proposing or commissioning a referendum except on statutory grounds stipulated in the law, the Cabinet is seeking to obtain the power to do so. The draft proposes that the Executive Yuan has the right to ask the CEC to initiate a referendum.

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