The Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) will use a proposal to amend the Constitution and change the legislative electoral system as a bargaining chip in today’s party negotiation, the party said yesterday.
“The TSU is determined to achieve this goal at all costs, including a boycott of negotiations if the other parties do not agree to include the proposal in the legislative agenda,” TSU Chairman Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) told a press conference.
The party caucuses of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the People First Party (PFP) and the TSU are scheduled to meet today to negotiate the opening date of the new legislative session, which requires a cross-party consensus.
The current “two-vote, single-member district” system was first implemented in Taiwan in 2008. Under the system, only one legislator is elected from each constituency and each eligible voter can cast two ballots — one for a candidate representing the voter’s district and the other for a political party — to decide how many legislator-at-large seats each party can obtain.
A political party must win at least 5 percent of the party vote to be eligible for a share of the legislator-at-large seats.
The winner-takes-all approach and the current single-district electoral system have created votes of unequal value and produced imbalanced representation, Huang said, adding that the system also incited social division.
Huang stressed that the electoral system has to be reformed regardless of how difficult it might be, adding that the TSU only demands the proposal be listed on the agenda and discussed in the legislature
“We will do what is right no matter how difficult it is. And we are not doing this for the sake of the benefit of the TSU, but for the benefit of the Taiwanese people,” Huang said.
While the proposal has yet to be finalized, Huang said his party favors the mixed-member proportional representation system, which has been adopted by Germany, medium-sized constituencies and lowering of the threshold for eligibility for party list seats from the current 5 percent to 2 percent.
The party, which only has three seats, would discuss possible collaboration with the DPP because it would take the signatures of more than one-quarter of the legislators, or 29 seats, to launch the amendment proposal.
Almost every political party had called the electoral system flawed during the election period, TSU Legislator Huang Wen-ling (黃文玲) said.
“So why don’t we make a change?” she asked.
Meanwhile, the TSU also criticized President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) decision to skip making a “State of the Nation” report to the legislature, saying Ma’s citing of the Constitution was incorrect and reflected his lack of understanding of the law.
The amendment of the ROC Constitution stated that the president can make an annual national report to the legislature, Huang said, while the Law Governing the Legislative Yuan’s Power (立法院職權行使法) states that legislators can interpellate the president after his national report.
“The TSU demands that Ma make a national report to the legislature and take questions from the legislators,” Huang said.
The TSU’s plan to push for constitutional reform to change the legislative electoral system evoked a mixed response from other parties yesterday.
Voicing disapproval of the TSU’s decision, KMT Policy Committee chief Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池) said he respects the TSU’s right to express its opinions but added that it was inappropriate to resort to threats to achieve its goals.
With the “two-vote, single-member district” system having only been used twice in national elections, more discussion of the system’s advantages and disadvantages should be held before any move to amend the constitution, Lin said.
PFP legislative caucus convener Thomas Lee (李桐豪) said his party believes the TSU’s proposal is incomplete because it fails to address the issue of whether Taiwan should adopt a presidential or parliamentary system of government.
DPP caucus whip Pan Men-an (潘孟安) said the DPP would not rule out supporting the TSU’s proposal.
In addition to the legislative electoral system, the DPP hopes the proposed constitutional reform will also cover other issues, such as lowering the age of suffrage to 18, Pan said.
Additional reporting by CNA