The New Power Party (NPP) yesterday proposed lowering the threshold for passage of constitutional amendments and abolishing the Control Yuan and the Examination Yuan.
The party unveiled its proposed constitutional amendments at a press conference in Taipei ahead of the opening of a new legislative session on Friday after an almost three-month break.
It called on all party caucuses to work together to discuss proposed changes to secure their approval this legislative session so that they can be put to a vote in a referendum next year to be held in tandem with the local nine-in-one elections, it said.
The nation has not amended the Constitution in 16 years because of the high threshold set for a proposal to be approved, NPP caucus whip Chiu Hsien-chih (邱顯智) told a news conference.
In addition to approval from the legislature, a proposed constitutional amendment would have to secure 9.65 million votes in a referendum to pass, based on President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) winning re-election last year with 8.17 million votes, the most votes garnered by an elected official since 1996, Chiu said.
This makes passing a constitutional amendment almost impossible, he added.
At present, a proposed amendment must be initiated by a quarter of all legislative members and a quorum of at least three-quarters of the legislature must be present to vote, with at least three-quarters of the attendees approving its passage, he said.
It must then be sanctioned in a referendum, in which the number of votes in favor of the proposal must be more than half of the nation’s total number of eligible voters, he said.
The NPP has proposed lowering the number to two-thirds of the legislature required to form a quorum and two-thirds of the attendees approving the proposal for it to pass, Chiu said.
The proposal “must also be passed in a referendum by securing 50 percent of votes from at least 50 percent of the voters,” he said, adding that this would ensure that the Constitution would reflect the current popular will.
The NPP has also proposed implementing a mixed-member, proportional representation system to replace the current system in which voters have one ballot for lawmakers and another for political parties, which Chiu said does not truthfully reflect the spirit of party politics.
The NPP’s proposal would add 43 more legislative seats, with the total 156 seats to be distributed as follows: 73 for elected lawmakers, 10 for Aborigines and 73 for legislators-at-large.
The Constitution requires a political party to obtain at least 5 percent of party votes to be assigned seats for legislators-at-large, which the NPP proposed lowering to 3 percent.
The party has said that it supports lowering the voting age to 18. It also backs a three-branch government by abolishing the Control Yuan and the Examination Yuan.
The Examination Yuan is mainly responsible for hosting civil exams, which previously was part of the administrative authority of the Executive Yuan, NPP deputy caucus whip Chen Jiau-hua (陳椒華) said.
The Control Yuan has the authority to investigate and impeach government officials, as well as audit government budget plans, which should be under the purview of the Legislative Yuan, she said.
The authorities of the three branches would be more clearly defined and the government would operate more efficiently if the Executive Yuan hosts civil exams and the Legislative Yuan takes charge of launching investigations and impeaching government officials, Chen said.
Constitutional amendments should include provisions to ensure the independence of the National Human Rights Commission, which is under the Control Yuan, she said, adding that a new independent agency should be established to audit government budget plans.
The party also proposed that the right to work, environmental rights and children’s rights be included as basic human rights protected by the Constitution.
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