The nation marked a historical moment this year when it held its first national referendum in March. The referendum, held in conjunction with the presidential election, asked voters two questions: whether the country should strengthen its self-defense capabilities in the face of China's missile threat, and whether the government should hold talks with Beijing to establish a peaceful framework for cross-strait interactions.
While the government touted the "advisory referendum" as an important tool for the people to voice their concerns on cross-strait tensions, neither referendum question managed to garner more than half of the population's ballots, required for the results to be considered valid. Some 45.17 percent of eligible voters -- roughly 7.45 million people -- cast ballots on the first question, while the second question, on relations with China, received 45.12 percent of the vote. The majority of those who cast ballots voted in favor of the proposals.
With the pan-blue camp strongly opposed to the referendum, there was heated debate over its legality. The Referendum Law (
Furthermore, China responded to the referendum with hostility, viewing it as a prelude to a future vote on Taiwan's independence. However, referendums have since become an important part of the nation's democratic vocabulary, with several local governments subsequently holding small-scale referendums on controversial issues.