Taiwan to vote on four referendum initiatives Saturday

12/17/2021 07:34 PM
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A campaign motorcade in Kaohsiung (left) and people attending a DPP rally in Taipei Friday. CNA photo Dec. 17, 2021
A campaign motorcade in Kaohsiung (left) and people attending a DPP rally in Taipei Friday. CNA photo Dec. 17, 2021

Taipei, Dec. 17 (CNA) Voters across Taiwan will cast their ballots in four plebiscites on Saturday that could have a major impact on the country's energy and trade policies, and are being seen as an interim test for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

The referendums will cover issues such as nuclear power, pork imports, conservation of algal reefs, and whether future referendums should be held on the same day as major elections, according to the Central Election Commission (CEC).

Of the four, the referendums that have drawn the most attention are whether the government should prohibit imports of pork, offal, or other related meat products that contain the food additive ractopamine; and if the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant should be unsealed and operated commercially to generate electricity.

The government lifted a ban on importing pork products containing ractopamine this year to allow the imports of U.S. pork containing the additive, which has been viewed as an attempt to boost Taiwan's chances of securing a trade agreement with the U.S. There has been widespread opposition from the public due to fears of the additive being unsafe as well as from local pig farmers worried about cheaper competition.

The government has also claimed unsealing the power plant would be unfeasible due to cost and safety issues while pro-nuclear activists argued that the country's energy shortage situation makes it a necessity to increase nuclear power production.

Voters will also be asked if referendums should be held concurrently with a national election if it complies with the Referendum Act and if the election is scheduled to take place within six months of the referendum being approved.

The last question is about whether CPC Corp.'s planned site for Taiwan's third liquefied natural gas terminal should be relocated from an algal reef off the coast of Datan, Taoyuan and its adjacent waters.

The ruling DPP is urging people to vote against all four proposals, while the main opposition Kuomintang supports a "yes" vote for all of them.

Under the Referendum Act, a referendum is passed when the number of "yes" votes surpasses that of "no" votes and that those who vote "yes" account for more than one-quarter of all eligible voters, which refers to any Taiwanese national aged 18 and above.

It means that any of the four referendums will be passed if the "yes" votes outnumber the "no" votes and exceed 4,956,367 votes, as there are 19,825,468 eligible voters in the referendums, the CEC said.

According to the CEC, there will be 676,332 first-time eligible voters, who are aged 18-21, as the last referendum vote took place in 2018.

If a referendum fails to pass, the same referendum question cannot be proposed again in the next two years, the CEC said, adding that there will be different procedures for the plebiscites if they manage to be passed.

Regarding the approval of change in future referendum arrangements, which is considered an initiative on legislative principles, the Cabinet is required to propose a draft amendment in accordance with the referendum result and submit it to the Legislature for review within three months after the vote.

The Legislature should complete the relevant legislation by the end of the next legislative term, according to the Referendum Act.

For the other three referendums, which are initiatives or referendums on important policies, the president or competent authorities should adopt necessary measures in compliance with the referendum results.

(By Lai Yu-chen and Lee Hsin-Yin)

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Update

Dec. 18: Four referendum questions fail to pass on low turnout

Dec. 17: Political parties rally to boost turnout for referendums

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