Wed, Jan 09, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Minor parties call for end to election deposits

By Ann Maxon  /  Staff reporter

Social Democratic Party (SDP) convener Fan Yun, center right, and several SDP members yesterday protest outside the Taipei High Administrative Court against the government’s election deposit system.

Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times

A coalition of small parties and civil groups yesterday rallied outside the Taipei High Administrative Court, calling for an end to expensive election deposits, which they said are unfair.

“We believe that the right to stand for election should not be limited to the rich,” said Social Democratic Party convener Fan Yun (范雲), who led the protest.

Fan was in August last year disqualified from running for Taipei mayor after she refused to pay an election deposit of NT$2 million (US$64,859).

According to regulations, candidates running for mayor or county commissioner must pay a deposit of NT$200,000, but the amount rises to NT$2 million in special municipalities.

Likewise, city and county councilor candidates must pay a deposit of NT$12,000, which also soars to NT$200,000 if the city is a special municipality.

Fan had filed an administrative appeal against the Taipei City Election Commission’s decision, but the appeal was rejected in November.

Saying that the election deposit requirement is unconstitutional, she yesterday filed a lawsuit against the commission.

“I received nearly 60,000 votes when I ran for legislator in Taipei’s Daan District (大安) [in 2015], but I was not allowed to run for Taipei mayor or present my platforms at the commission’s official event purely because I could not afford NT$2 million,” she said.

Requiring election deposits is against the right to equality, the right to stand in elections and the right to participate in politics as protected by the Constitution, she said.

“There are viable alternatives to election deposits. We just need to discuss them and decide what would be the most suitable for Taiwan,” Fan said.

In Australia, Belgium, Hungary, Italy and Luxembourg, prospective candidates have the option of submitting a certain number of signatures in lieu of a deposit, she said.

In Finland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and France, no deposits or signatures are required at all to stand for election, she added.

“As a city councilor of a special municipality, I know from experience that a deposit of NT$200,000 is a high threshold for young people,” Taoyuan City Councilor Wang Hao-yu (王浩宇) of the Green Party said.

“Many young people want to run in elections, but after paying the deposits there is usually little left for election campaigns,“ he said.

The Democratic Progressive Party had said it would promote diversity and help minor parties, but never delivered on the promise, he added.

Lin Yu-chieh (林鈺傑), a representative from New Power Party Legislator Hsu Yung-ming’s (徐永明) office, said the party is planning to propose a draft amendment to the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act (公職人員選舉罷免法) in the next legislative session, which would set a limit to the deposits and introduce alternatives.

The bill would limit election deposits to under 10 times of the minimum wage and allow for them to be replaced by a certain number of signatures, he said.

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