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Legislature passes amendment bill to lower referendum thresholds

2017/12/12 15:19:05

CNA file photo

Taipei, Dec. 12 (CNA) The Legislature on Tuesday revised provisions to the Referendum Act to lower the thresholds for a referendum motion to be initiated and accepted, and for its result to be declared valid.

Since the law was enacted in 2003, six national referendums have been held, none of which have met the 50 percent turnout threshold, rendering the vote invalid.

Under the amendments passed by the Legislature, the result of a referendum will be declared legitimate if 25 percent of all eligible voters cast ballots and a majority votes in favor of the proposal.

Under the existing law, several attempts to initiate a plebiscite have been thwarted by the high thresholds that require collection of signatures to endorse the proposal in two stages.

Despite the differences among political parties on what constitutes a reasonable threshold, they all proposed lowering the current hurdles to "return power to the people."

The new amendments lower the required number of signatures for a referendum initiative in the first stage from 0.1 percent to 0.01 percent of the total number of eligible voters in the most recent presidential election, or about 1,879.

In the second stage, for such an initiative to be accepted, the threshold has been lowered from 5 percent to 1.5 percent of the total number of eligible voters in the most recent presidential election, or about 280,000.

Meanwhile, the amended law does not allow referendums on constitutional changes, including changes to sovereign symbols governed by the Constitution such as the name of the nation, its anthem, flag, or territorial boundaries.

(By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Chen Chun-hwa)
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