Nuclear Power Debate: Legislative talks about Referendum Act break down

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Mar 06, 2013 - Page 3

Negotiations in the Legislative Yuan over the threshold of the Referendum Act (公民投票法) collapsed yesterday.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁), convener of the negotiations, said more talks would be arranged because some ministers did not attend the meeting.

The party negotiation session of the legislature’s Internal Administration Committee aimed to discuss whether the current referendum threshold should be lowered, with Executive Yuan Secretary-General Chen Wei-zen (陳威仁), Minister of the Interior Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源) and Central Election Commission (CEC) Chairperson Chang Po-ya (張博雅) invited to attend.

The decision of the ministry and the CEC to send deputies to the meeting infuriated DPP lawmakers, who said the government and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) were not serious about discussing the amendment.

Current referendum laws require a voter turnout of at least 50 percent and a majority of 51 percent for a motion to be approved, a threshold the DPP said was too high.

The DPP’s proposal was based on an initiative from DPP Legislator Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) proposing that a referendum be approved if the number of “yes” votes exceeds the number “no” votes and the yes votes account for more than 25 percent of the electorate.

Yeh’s proposal also aims to abolish the Referendum Review Committee and scrap restrictions on referendums which stipulate that issues related to territorial change, budget, tax and investment cannot be put to a vote.

Separately yesterday, Executive Yuan Deputy Secretary General Chien Tai-lang (簡太郎) said the Cabinet will not have its own version of an amendment to revise the Referendum Act because it was opposed to lowering the referendum threshold.

KMT caucus whip Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) said the DPP amendment was tailor-made to help the referendum pass.

“You can’t ask for changes in the rules of a game when it is about to begin,” Lai said.

Lai said the dispute over the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant would be resolved in a referendum only when its turnout exceeds half of the electorate.

The losers of the referendum would be recalcitrant if less than half of voters turn out, Lai said.

Additional reporting by Shih Hsiu-chuan