Fri, Aug 24, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Alliance seeks changes to election deposit rules

COUNCIL SEATS:To pay the deposit to run in a special municipality, a 23-year-old woman would have to not eat or drink for months, a candidate said

By Ann Maxon  /  Staff reporter

Members of the Obasang Alliance rally outside the Taichung City Government on Wednesday.

Photo: Chang Ching-ya, Taipei Times

The Obasang Alliance, a group of nonpartisan mothers running for city or county councilor seats, yesterday rallied outside the Central Election Commission in Taipei, calling for reforms to the electoral system, which requires candidates to pay a deposit of between NT$120,000 and NT$200,000 (US$3,897 and US$6,496) to run for a seat in a local council.

The alliance, which in December last year announced its plan to contest the Nov. 24 nine-in-one elections, has 21 councilor candidates in eight cities and counties.

Alliance members are mostly stay-at-home mothers — “obasang” is a Japanese term meaning “older women” — who rely on donations to pay the deposits.

Regulations say a deposit of NT$120,000 is required to contest a local council seat, or NT$200,000 in a special municipality, which is the same as required for a legislative seat.

The deposit is returned in full only if the candidate receives enough votes.

“To afford the deposit in a special municipality, an average 23-year-old woman would have to eat and drink nothing for nine months. If a 30-year-old woman wants to run for mayor in a special municipality, which requires a deposit of NT$2 million, she would have to spend nothing for nearly 50 months,” said Joyce Hsu (徐書慧), who is running for a Taipei City Council seat representing Shilin (士林) and Beitou (北投) districts.

Citing research by the Swedish Institute For Democracy and Electoral Assistance, which reviewed election requirements of 173 nations, the alliance said only 20 nations require candidates to pay an election deposit or registration fee.

The deposit is unreasonably high, even compared with nations with similar requirements, the alliance said.

In Canada and Australia, where incomes are much higher, the deposit to run for legislator is equivalent to NT$30,000, while in New Zealand it is only NT$9,000, it said.

The alliance also said the commission should return the deposit, as long as the candidate has not breached any election laws.

By keeping the deposit of a candidate who does not get enough votes, the commission might be punishing candidates with more revolutionary or ambitious platforms, while rewarding conservative politicians, said Liu Hsin-yi (劉欣宜), who is running for a New Taipei City Council seat.

“The commission should change its rules to encourage diversity in elections,” Liu said.

This story has been viewed 2073 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top