Direct Democracy

While the rights of initiative and referendum are recognized by Article 136 of the 1947 Constitution, the relevant Referendum Act was only adopted by the Legislative Yuan in 2003. Both the Legislative Yuan and the citizens of Taiwan have the right of initiative for a referendum process.

So far, six national referendums have been organized in Taiwan, in three separate instances as two questions were submitted to voters every time. In March 2004, voters were consulted regarding the relationship between Taiwan and the Popular Republic of China. In January 2008, there were ballots about issues of transitional justice and corruption in politics. Finally, in March 2008, citizens of Taiwan were asked to express their opinions regarding the island’s application to join the United Nations.

None of the national referendums have met yet the threshold of 50 % of voter participation to be successful. As of late 2016, the Legislative Yuan was considering a new amendment to the Referendum Act that would suppress this threshold and make it easier for citizens to submit an issue to a referendum.

Four local referendums have also been held throughout the country, regarding public schools policy and the establishment of casinos. Finally, article 17 of the Referendum Act stipulates that the President, with the approval of the Executive Yuan, can submit issues of national security to the people by referendum. Such a public consultation have yet to be organized.

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