A proposal by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus to amend the Constitution to lower the legal voting age to 18 and the age ofpolitical party candidacy to 20 yesterday advanced to committee review.
“Today is the most significant day for the reforms that the KMT has pledged to undertake,” KMT Legislator Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) told a news conference in Taipei.
As the party is traditionally seen as being out of touch with young people, the proposed constitutional amendments are a statement to empower youth as they seek more participation in public affairs, said Chiang, who was elected KMT chairman this month.
Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times
With the advent of the Internet, young people are now exposed to an abundance of information and have become more insightful than politicians on a range of emerging issues, Chiang said.
Instead of petitioning and protesting as outsiders, young people should be elected as delegates to speak up for their own rights and shape the nation’s future, he said.
As the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has been a vocal supporter of lowering the legal age of candidacy, it should quickly assemble a constitutional reform committee to respond to calls from young people, he added.
Politicians have traditionally made decisions for young people without listening to what they really want, KMT caucus secretary-general Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) said.
Democracy can only be realized by increasing civil participation in public affairs, he said, adding that “youth are our future” should not be a slogan, but a reality.
The KMT used to oppose lowering the legal voting age because it believed that younger voters generally disliked it, DPP caucus director-general Cheng Yun-peng (鄭運鵬) said.
The KMT’s proposals show that it is finally willing to heed the calls of the public and do the right thing, he said.
Several DPP lawmakers have tendered similar proposals, but they are not exactly aligned with the DPP caucus’ stance on the issue, Cheng said, adding that the caucus would tender its proposal to amend the Constitution after reviewing all items related to constitutional reforms.
However, as the caucus already has a lot on its plate, it is unlikely to submit a constitutional reform package during the current legislative session, he said.
A constitutional amendment committee is an ad hoc body that requires the participation of at least one-third of all lawmakers, with its makeup determined by proportion of seats each caucus has on the legislative floor.
A motion to amend the Constitution must be sponsored by at least one-fourth of legislators to be valid and approved by at least three-fourths of a quorum of 75 percent of legislators during a plenary session.
The proposal must then be voted on by the electorate and would only be passed if at least half of eligible voters voted for it.
Additional reporting by Huang Hsin-po
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