Amid signs of a deepening polarization of the political scene between northern and southern Taiwan, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) yesterday called for a review of the single-member electoral district system, saying that failure to do so could aggravate regional disparities.
As a result of a 2005 constitutional amendment, the country has implemented a “two-vote, single-member district” mechanism in lieu of the “single-vote, multiple-member district” system since the seventh legislative election in 2008, while the number of legislative seats was cut from 225 to 113.
The 2008 election showed the south was a stronghold for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), while the north was firmly in the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) camp, Wang said.
The single-seat legislative election system also led to the “localization” of lawmakers because grassroots politicians who have closer links with local factions can win elections more easily than candidates that might be more familiar with national affairs, he said.
The result of the eighth legislative election on Saturday again highlighted the seriousness of the problem, whereby the number of seats a political party wins is disproportionate to the number of votes it received, Wang said.
Wang said he also did not believe the system benefits people because in many districts, constituents are now represented by a single party, while the system squeezes out smaller political parties.
His concerns were corroborated by the election result.
From a total of 79 regional seats, the KMT, which garnered 48.18 percent of votes, won 48 seats, or 60 percent of the regional seats, while the DPP won 27 seats, or 34 percent, by winning 43.8 percent of votes.
In Taoyuan County, the KMT grabbed all six seats by garnering 53.87 of the votes, despite the DPP winning 35.46 percent of the vote. In Greater Tainan, all five seats were won by the DPP, which received 59.42 percent of the votes, while the KMT won 37.33 percent of the vote.
Because reforming the electoral system would require constitutional amendments, Wang called on negotiations among political parties to reach a consensus.
The KMT, which maintained a majority in the eighth legislature by winning 64 seats, or 56 percent, despite a loss of 17 seats from the seventh legislature, quickly opposed Wang’s suggestion.
KMT Legislator Lin Hong-chi (林鴻池) said it was inappropriate to revise the system when it had been used only twice.
“Our Constitution is a rigid Constitution … to maintain stability in our political system,” Lin said.
KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) said there was no perfect system “and it takes time to examine whether the current system is suitable for Taiwan.”
The DPP welcomed Wang’s proposal that the single-member district electoral system be re-examined, DPP Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) told a press conference.
“The system has distorted the true meaning of democratic politics by creating votes of unequal value and squeezing out the smaller political parties,” he said.
It has also made diverse opinions and representation in the -legislature impossible and has made vote buying easier, he added.
Observing the current legislative session, which began the implementation of the single--member district, two votes system four years ago, Tsai said geographical political division has been exacerbated in Taiwan.