The nation's fifth and sixth referendums, both of which turned to the question of whether the nation should apply to join the UN, received a double rejection yesterday, with a turnout of about 35 percent, demonstrating that so far the nation has been unable to reach a consensus on the matter.
The referendums took place yesterday alongside the presidential election.
While the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) had proposed a referendum on joining the UN using the name "Taiwan," the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) initiated its own, asking the nation whether it should seek to "rejoin" the international body using the name "Republic of China" or any other "practical" title that would uphold the country's dignity.
The Referendum Law (
First, more than 50 percent of eligible voters need to cast a referendum ballot, and second, of the valid votes, 50 percent of the voters need to respond in the affirmative to the referendum question.
None of the six referendums held in the nation so far has managed to reach the first benchmark and attain the 50 percent threshold.
By law a failed referendum question cannot be asked again for a period of three years.
Central Elections Commission statistics showed that 17,313,854 voters were eligible to participate in the referendum, meaning that 8,656,927 voters needed to pick up a ballot.
With invalid or forfeited votes taken into account, the number of votes estimated by the commission for a referendum to pass was about 4.3 million if the 8.65 million threshold was met.
In the fifth referendum, the DPP asked: "In 1971, the People's Republic of China joined the United Nations, replacing the Republic of China and making Taiwan an international orphan. Do you agree that the government, in a strong expression of the will of the Taiwanese people and in order to elevate Taiwan's international status and promote its international participation, should join the United Nations under the name `Taiwan'?"
The referendum received 6,201,677 votes -- a 35.82 percent turnout -- 5,529,230 of which were in the affirmative, or 94.01 percent of the valid votes.
In its referendum, the KMT asked the voters: "Do you agree that our country should apply to return to the United Nations and enter other organizations using a pragmatic and flexible name strategy, that is, do you approve applying to return to the United Nations and joining other international organizations under the name the `Republic of China,' `Taiwan' or another name that facilitates success while maintaining dignity?"
The referendum received a total of 6,187,118 votes -- a 35.74 percent turnout -- of which 4,962,309 were in the affirmative, or 87.27 of the valid votes.
During the legislative elections in January, referendums three and four received a 26.34 and 26.08 percent turnout respectively.
In 2004, the first and second referendums were tied with the presidential election and received 45.17 and 45.12 percent turnout respectively, the commission said yesterday.
The referendums have been a topic of fierce debate in the past months.
Prominent political figures such as President Chen Shui-bian (