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New Taipei City votes to allow referendums

TAIPEI -- The New Taipei City council approved a bill Monday that will allow the city to hold public referendums on issues such as the country's controversial No. 4 nuclear power plant, which is expected to be first in line.

The bill, jointly proposed by councilors of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the Kuomintang and the Non-Partisan Solidarity Union, was passed unanimously by the council members.

With the passage of the Statute Governing New Taipei Referendums, the question of whether construction of the nuclear plant in the city's Gongliao district should continue is likely to be put on the ballot.

DPP city councilors have been pushing for such a referendum, said DPP Councilor Ho Shu-feng. She said the proposal is expected to gain the required support of 0.5 percent of the electorate in order to stand as an initiative.

The initiative will then need to be endorsed by 5 percent of the electorate before it can be put on the ballot.

The city's population of over 3.9 million accounts for more than 16.7 percent of the country's total, Ho said. As Taiwan's most populous city, “why can't its residents voice their opinions on a nuclear plant that is being constructed here?” she asked.

Three of Taiwan's four nuclear power plants are located in New Taipei. Anti-nuclear activists have been calling for the shutdown of the No. 1 and No. 2 plants on the city's coast, which is scheduled for 2019 and 2023 respectively, citing safety concerns.

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