The legislature’s Internal Administration Committee is set to review draft amendments to the Local Government Act (地方制度法) on Wednesday in a bid to resolve a long-standing dispute over the two-term limit imposed on elective posts, although opinions remain divided on the needed for stricter standards.
The act stipulates that an officeholder “may only be re-elected to a second term.”
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators Wu Ping-jui (吳秉叡) and Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) each submitted an amendment to the act following controversy over the annulment of former Jhunan Township (竹南) mayor Kang Shih-ju’s (康世儒) election last year.
Kang was elected Jhunan’s 14th mayor in 2002 and re-elected in 2006. However, he resigned as mayor after winning a legislative by-election in 2009.
Jhunan’s mayoral post was left vacant when Hsieh Ching-chuan (謝清泉) passed away in October 2011. Kang ran in last year’s mayoral by-election and won.
Despite the Ministry of the Interior’s 2009 interpretation, which stated that the two-term limit should be counted as “two terms in total” instead of “two consecutive terms,” the Taiwan High Court in November last year ruled that Kang’s re-election ran counter to the act and revoked his election.
Following the court ruling, the ministry in December last year re-defined the two-term limit as “two consecutive terms.”
Kang’s brother, Kang Shih-ming (康世明), who ran as an independent candidate, won the mayoral by-election in February, beating Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) candidate Chen Pi-hua (陳碧華) and DPP candidate Lee Chen-hua (李震華).
Wu’s proposed amendment would prohibit an officeholder who has been re-elected once from running in a by-election, while Tuan’s proposal proposes changing the phrase “re-elected to a second term” to “re-elected to a consecutive term.”
A report last month by the Legislative Research Bureau on the two-term limit leaned toward the interpretation of “two terms in total.”
The report quoted National Taiwan University political science professor Hsiao Chuan-cheng (蕭全政) as saying that a case in which a person did not serve two full terms should not be categorized as an “re-election.”
The people’s right to political participation should not be overly restricted by the law, particularly when elections are held once every four years, the report said.