Wed, Nov 21, 2007 - Page 3 News List

CEC outranks local electoral bodies: premier

AUTHORITY The premier says that the law allows the CEC to give orders to electoral commissions in cities and counties and that clarifications would soon be provided

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Amid the drawn-out debate between the pan-blue and pan-green camps over the Central Election Commission's (CEC) decision to adopt a "one-step" voting procedure for January's legislative poll and referendums, Premier Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) yesterday said the CEC had authority over district electoral commissions.

"I believe the Election and Recall Law of Civil Servants (公職人員選舉罷免法) stipulates that the CEC can give orders to electoral commissions of cities and counties," Chang said when approached for comment on his way to a legislative question-and-answer session.

"Since the CEC has decided on a `one-step' voting procedure, [local commissions] should follow the CEC's directives," he said.

Chang also said government officials must display "ethics," adding that the central government would take disciplinary action against public officials who violate the law.

Chang did not specify what law or articles authorized the central government to take action.

Chang's comment came after Cabinet spokesman Shieh Jhy-wey (謝志偉) threatened on Monday to punish any local government officials who defy the CEC's decision on the voting procedure.

The pan-blue and pan-green camps have been arguing over how the ballots for the legislative elections and two referendums -- one sponsored by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the other by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) -- should be distributed.

Both sides accuse each other of trying to manipulate the results of the legislative elections and referendums through voting procedures.

The CEC ruled last Friday in favor of the "one-step" procedure advocated by the DPP, in which voters will receive the various ballots simultaneously at the entrance to voting stations.

All 18 pan-blue-controlled city and county governments signed a statement pledging to defy the decision and saying the authority to do so comes from the Local Government Act (地方自治法).

KMT caucus whip Kuo Su-chun (郭素春) lashed out at the Cabinet, accusing it of trying to intimidate local electoral commissions.

"The government has threatened to punish [local] government officials just because they won't listen to it. What is the difference between the government and gangsters?" Kuo asked.

Chang, defended the Cabinet's policy, saying it was not threatening local government officials. He said he would ask the CEC to clarify its authority to local electoral commissions.

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