The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)-dominated legislature yesterday passed the Organic Act of the Central Election Commission (中央選舉委員會組織法) that would empower the legislature to approve or reject CEC members nominated by the premier.
The legislature voted in favor of a KMT proposal to require the current CEC to be dismissed once new members are appointed.
Passage of the Act makes it impossible for members of the current CEC to finish their term of office in June next year.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) said the KMT would not hesitate to nominate new members of the CEC now that the amendment was passed.
DPP Legislator Chiu Yi-ying (邱議瑩) accused President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of trying to control the CEC by dismissing the current commission.
Organization of the CEC has been a subject of debate between the KMT and the DPP for years, with the KMT questioning the legitimacy of the current election body because it follows the Organic Regulation of the CEC (中央選舉委員會組織規程), which does not hold the same status as a law.
The bill that passed yesterday authorizes the premier to relieve the commission’s chairman or vice chairman of his or her duties on the grounds of illness, violation of the law or negligence of duty if they are detained by police or indicted for any crime.
KMT caucus deputy secretary-general Tsao Erh-chang (曹爾忠) blamed the DPP for “prolonging the legalization of the organization of the CEC.”
“Elections are important in a democracy. How are we going to have a sound democracy if our CEC fails to transcend party lines and is manipulated by the DPP?” Tsao asked on the legislative floor.
While not fully satisfied with the newly adopted Act, CEC Chairman Chang Cheng-hsiung (張政雄) yesterday still welcomed the move.
“The completion of the legislative process of the law meets public expectations despite the fact that there are some controversial clauses in it,” Chang said in a written statement.
“While the CEC should be the highest independent body in charge of elections, it’s regrettable that [after the Act takes effect] the CEC [will not be] given the authority to be in charge of all laws and policies regarding elections and recalls,” he said.
“Instead, such powers [will] rest in the hands of the Ministry of the Interior, which is neither a professional nor an independent institution when it comes to handling elections,” the CEC chairman said.
Chang said that because the CEC had no power over election laws and policies, it would not be able to oversee candidates’ handling and use of campaign funds, “which may help to create unfair elections.”
On the other hand, CEC member Lai Hao-min (賴浩敏) viewed the law as something positive.
“Of course it’s always good that there is actually a law regulating how the CEC should be organized,” Lai said before going into a CEC meeting yesterday. “I hope that the CEC will be able to hold elections based on the principles of fairness and justice from now on.”