The vote to recall Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alex Tsai (蔡正元) held yesterday was a historic, apt demonstration of democracy and the rise of Taiwanese “civic power” despite its failure to pass, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesman Chen Yun-peng (鄭運鵬) said.
The attempt to vote Tsai out of office failed because the poll failed to attain a 50 percent voter turnout as required by law, according to the Central Election Commission.
Cheng said that, regardless of the outcome, yesterday was the nation’s most significant recall voting session in its history of democratic development, because of rational debates by members of the public on the matter during the process.
The rational performance of citizens has placed the results of direct democracy and representative democracy side by side, Cheng said, adding that citizens participating in the event had made their points in a clear and rational manner no matter which side they were on and in the end left the choice to the people. Their will and implementation is to be commended, Cheng said.
Reiterating the DPP’s stance on the issue, Cheng said the current Referendum Act (公民投票法) had many anachronistic regulations.
“That the citizenry in a democratic nation holds the rights to vote, but not the right to recall is absurd, for it represents the deprivation of citizen’s rights and makes a mockery of the democratic system, in which the public are supposed to be the leaders,” Cheng said.
The DPP plans to propose amendments to the Referendum Act, Cheng said, calling for KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) and KMT legislators not to block the amendment.
Meanwhile, former DPP chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said an inherent flaw in the recall system was what led to the vote’s failure, adding that it was in no way due to insufficient backing or not having put enough effort into the campaign.
Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德) said that the nation only needs one reminder of democracy’s failure, manifested in the form of this so-called “birdcage” Referendum Act, adding that the government should amend the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act (公職人員選舉罷免法) so people’s rights are protected.
Earlier yesterday, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) called legal restrictions on the exercise of recall powers “unreasonable.”
“Full democratic government should include powers of election, recall, initiative and referendum, but presently only election has been realized in Taiwan,” Ko said. “We have a long road to walk before full democracy is realized.”
As for the vote result, Ko said that even though the recall campaign failed to pass, it still represented political progress.
“At the very least, this is the first time in our political history that a recall campaign has entered the final phase,” he said. “All progress comes step by step — often there is no way to achieve everything at once.”
Academia Sinica researcher Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) said the campaign showed the resilience and commitment of civic organizations in Taiwan.
Huang criticized the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act, saying there were many regulations that were not logical.
The next step is to appeal to the Legislative Yuan to amend the act and “return the rule of law to the citizenry,” he added.
Meanwhile, KMT deputy caucus whip Liao Kuo-tung (廖國棟) said that there is no standard to gauge whether the threshold is too high or too low, “as past cases [for evaluation] are nonexistent.”
“[Yesterday’s] case could now be a case for us to start with. [The party caucus] is open to the discussion of the issue,” he said.
Additional reporting by Liang Pei-chi, Lii Wen and Alison Hsiao
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