FIXING ‘BIRDCAGE ACT’:The party seeks to lower thresholds it says make the act the preserve of big political parties, while safeguarding the rights of Aborigines
Date: Mar 23, 2016
By: Chen Wei-han / Staff reporter
The New Power Party (NPP) caucus yesterday proposed amendments to the
Referendum Act (公民投票法) to lower referendum thresholds and the minimum voting age and switch to a plurality voting system.
At a post-caucus press conference, the NPP said it would modify the act to lower the signature threshold from 0.5 percent to 0.01 percent of the electorate to initiate a referendum proposal and lower the threshold to put a referendum proposal to a vote from 5 percent to 1.5 percent of the electorate.
“The Referendum Act is often described as a birdcage act, because its thresholds are set so high that it deprives people of their rights to referendum and makes referendums a tool of large parties capable of mobilizing a large number of voters,” NPP Legislator Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) said.
The party also proposed lowering the minimum voting age from 20 to 18, establishing absentee voting and shifting to a plurality voting system from the simple majority system, under which a referendum proposal is passed when more than 50 percent of eligible voters cast ballots and when more than 50 percent of the ballots cast are in approval of the proposal.
While average voter turnout is about 70 percent in Taiwan, the so-called “double-50-percent thresholds” are advantageous to opponents of a referendum proposal, because their parties can vote down a proposal simply by persuading 20 percent of the public not to vote, making the act unfair, Hsu said. [FULL STORY]