Taiwan's 2008 Legislative Yuan Elections

  Previous  |  Next  

Friday January 11, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

Big changes are coming this Saturday January 12, 2008, Taiwan will vote to select members of the upcoming Legislative Yuan in an election that will have several new wrinkles and be a first in many items for Taiwan. First of all, the number of legislators has been halved from 225 to 113 so a number of the old faces will not be there simply because of this reduction. Second the legislators will be elected one member per district. This means that candidates from the various parties will be going head to head with each other and not just hoping to luck out in being one of the top ten or such in multiple members for single districts as in the past. Each has to win now solely on his or her own personal record and/or relationship with voters in their district. Because of these two changes we will no longer see characters like Li Ao who lucked out last time in being the 10th of 10 legislators selected from his district. He has chosen not to run and not be embarrassed by a small number of votes. But there is more.

Six positions are guaranteed for aborigines; three for the plains people and three for the mountain people. There are also twelve parties that will be participating and hoping for at least a spot in the 34 at-large positions. To get a seat there a party must get at least 5% of the votes that people cast nation-wide for their party of choice. This ballot is separate from that which the voters cast for an individual legislator. Thus it is possible a voter may vote for a candidate from one of the major parties but cast his/her party vote for one of the smaller parties. Few of the smaller parties are expected to reach the 5% minimum in order to place a candidate in the 34 at-large positions. It will be interesting to see who survives this test.

The two referendums will have their own difficulty. To pass, each must receive 50 per cent of the possible votes (17, 277, 720), not 50 per cent of the votes cast. In numbers this means each referendum must get 8, 638, 860 votes. If there is a low voter turn out it will be difficult to reach this number. Add to this the fact that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has told its voters not to vote for the referendums even though one of the referendums (that on anti-corruption) was put forth by them. The referendum that they hope to sink is the referendum that will demand that the state assets that the KMT confiscated during the martial law era be returned.

There are many firsts in this legislative election and many new wrinkles. Tomorrow will tell the story. Stay tuned.