The Election and Recall Act for Public Servants (公職人員選舉罷免法) should be amended because it is outdated, said an Academia Sinica researcher who is a supporter of the Constitution 133 Alliance’s campaign urging the recall of several Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers they view as incompetent — especially those who prioritize partisan interests over those of the public.
The revisions to the act made in 1983 only relaxed restrictions on voting procedures, while the clauses on recall and impeachment procedures more or less remained as they were during the Martial Law era, Academia Sinica researcher Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) said yesterday.
The result is an unreasonable system protecting legislators and, until 2004, National Assembly members, Huang said, adding that that was why lawmakers do not need to fear the public once they are elected and also why they remain loyal to their political party’s policies, despite public disapproval.
Constitutional amendments in 2000 and 2004 transferred the majority of powers held by the National Assembly to the Legislative Yuan.
Huang said the motion to recall legislators must be submitted by 2 percent of all voters within a legislator’s constituency and signed by at least 13 percent, requiring the support of 15 percent of all voters in the constituency in the first stage of recall procedures.
At least 50 percent of voters must vote for the recall if the move is to pass.
The people who propose the recall may not be included in the percentage of constituents signing on to support the move, an action which must be completed within 30 days of its initiation, Huang said, adding that this was unreasonable and in violation with the constitutional rights of suffrage granted to citizens.
The greatest flaw in the recall system is Article 79, which prohibits advertising for or against a recall unless strictly needed to garner support for the signature drive, Huang said, adding that if one cannot spread the word of intent to recall a legislator it would be difficult to seek support.
Huang added that the line between advertisement and media — whose reporting of such events were for the benefit of the greater good — is blurred and needs to be clarified, adding that the act fails to mention the media.
The Central Election Commission and the media need to find a consensus as to where the line is drawn, Huang said.
While urging the commission to draft the necessary amendments and submit them to the Legislative Yuan, Huang was skeptical that the amendments would be passed because the they are entwined with legislators’ own interests.