Reform of the electoral system to increase both space and resources for minor political parties is required for the long-term development of Taiwan’s democracy, advocates said yesterday.
“Give them [smaller political parties] more opportunities and air to breathe,” People First Party (PFP) Legislator Chang Show-foong (張曉風) told a press conference organized by opposition party representatives.
“They will be able to bring a lot more positive feedback to society,” Chang said.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Pasuya Yao (姚文智), Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Legislator Lin Shih-chia (林世嘉) and Pan Han-sheng (潘翰聲), a member of the Green Party Taiwan, also took part in the event, which called for the threshold for government subsidies for political parties to be lowered.
Pan proposed lowering the threshold for government subsidies from a 5 percent share of the vote to 1 percent — or even 0.5 percent — as is the case in Germany.
Parties that receive more than 5 percent of the vote in a general election receive a NT$50 (US$1.7) subsidy for each vote from the government, with four parties receiving a total subsidy of NT$616 million.
Lowering the threshold would increase the subsidy by about NT$40 million, a relatively small amount for the major parties, but a boost for their smaller counterparts, Pan said.
The Central Election Commission and the Ministry of the Interior agreed in principle with the proposal during a meeting of the legislature’s Internal Affairs Committee yesterday afternoon.
At a separate press conference, former Tainan County commissioner Su Huan-chih (蘇煥智) also proposed overhauling the electoral system, adding that he would establish a non-partisan alliance to promote the legislation if he is elected DPP chairman.
Su proposed adopting an electoral system based on the one used in Germany — a mixed-member proportional representation system — to replace the current system, under which legislators are elected to districts with drastically different populations, leading to the “votes of unequal value” phenomenon.
In the Seventh Legislative Yuan, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) won 61 seats with 53 percent of the vote, while the DPP won only 13 seats, despite it winning 38 percent of the vote.
The KMT controls 60 percent of the 73 regional seats with a 48 percent share of the vote, while the DPP only has 27 seats after receiving a 40 percent share of the vote, Su said.
Public opinion is therefore not appropriately represented in the legislature under the current system, which over time could have a negative impact on political stability and the check-and-balance mechanism, he said.
Su also proposed increasing the number of legislator-at-large seats from 34 to 79 and lowering the threshold for parties to receive the seats from 5 percent to 3 percent.