Tue, May 20, 2014 - Page 3 News List

DPP cautious on parliament model, but debate needed

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on Friday outlined seven key areas that the party is proposing for constitutional reform.

The DPP also said that the replacement of the nation’s current semi-presidential system with a parliamentary system merited debate, because more Taiwanese support the model, the party said, but it cautioned that this would be a complicated and ambitious initiative.

The DPP has touched on constitutional reform several times in its 28-year history, but the party now says that it has no choice but to make the reforms a priority, following recent civic movements, including the Sunflower movement, which demanded a citizens’ constitutional conference that was later rejected by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).

In a forum on Friday, DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said the seven areas of reform are the amendment threshold for the Constitution; the legislative election electoral format; the total number of legislative seats; rights regarding no-confidence votes and dissolving the legislature; presidential power; the referendum threshold; and the continued existence of the Control Yuan and the Examination Yuan.

Implementation of a parliamentary system, which would categorically change the basic constitutional mechanism of the country, was not among the proposed areas.

In response to a media inquiry yesterday, Su said the current conflict between the administrative and legislative branches could be resolved through the proposed structural changes.

However, a high degree of consensus would be required for the fundamental changes because of the current high threshold required to make amendments to the Constitution, Su said.

After seven amendments, the Constitution remains flawed, Su said, identifying in particular the power of the president — who is not held accountable — and the constant conflict between the Executive Yuan and the Legislative Yuan.

With Su scheduled to end his tenure after the chairmanship election on Sunday, the view of former chairperson and presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) — who is favored to win the election — will be essential in the party’s effort to promote constitutional reform.

In her comments in a televised debate for the chairmanship election on Sunday last week, Tsai appeared to hold similar views to Su’s.

Tsai said that the public’s negative impressions about the presidential system, “were more about the president’s abuse of power and the lack of checks and balances on him.”

After reports stating Tsai’s “clear support” of parliamentarianism, Tsai issued a press release yesterday to clarify that she had no preference between the two systems, but all constitutional reform proposals should be deliberated to seek the maximum consensus.

While it could take a long time to build public consensus, it appeared that most Taiwanese realize the flaws in the nation’s semi-presidential system and favor a parliamentary system, Tsai said.

Former DPP lawmaker Lin Cho-shui (林濁水), who is a member of the DPP’s constitutional reform task force, cited a previously unpublished poll conducted by the party in which respondents supported parliamentarianism over presidentialism 68.7 percent to 13.8 percent.

Lin wrote on Facebook yesterday that consensus-building on the issue could be faster than expected as mainstream public opinion was clear.

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