DPP rethinking timing for anti-nuclear vote
By Enru Lin, The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is rethinking its plan to hold an anti-nuclear referendum alongside the 2014 local election, said Chairman Su Tseng-chang yesterday.
January 24, 2013, 12:03 am TWN
Earlier this week, the DPP headquarters said it is preparing a referendum on curbing construction on New Taipei City's Fourth Nuclear Power Plant. The party will conduct the referendum in tandem with the “seven-in-one” local elections of 2014, said the chairman.
Su softened on the proposal yesterday, announcing that the plebiscite's timing is set to go up for debate.
“The referendum's timing is going to depend on upcoming negotiations with anti-nuclear energy civic groups, and on the progress of the ongoing petition,” said Su, adding that DPP's ultimate goal will be success for the referendum.
Su's move may have been prompted by unfavorable appraisals from the Kuomintang, civic groups and some DPP heavyweights.
His original proposal was panned by the ruling party — which called it “politically motivated” — and by the Nuclear-free Homeland Alliance, which complained that the DPP made the decision without consulting anti-nuclear civic groups beforehand.
Split Party Opinions
Su's original proposal had also drawn some discord from within the DPP.
“It's not so important that the referendum be tied to the election,” said former party Chairman and Taiwan Premier Yu Shyi-kun earlier yesterday.
Linking the elections and referendum would “shift the focus” from whether Nuke No. 4 should continue to run and the risks of operation, according to Yu.
“Once a referendum is prepared, it can be held at any time,” said Yu. “Certainly, the sooner that happens, the better.”
“Former DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen also called for urgency behind the referendum, as Nuke No. 4 is slated to undergo fuel rod loading within the next year. A referendum is one way for the DPP to block the loading, but a referendum at the end of 2014 would be “a little late,” she told local media in Taitung County.
Meanwhile, former Tainan County Magistrate Su Huan-chih (蘇煥智) called the referendum “a good idea” that is wanting in execution. “The execution appears to lack strategic thinking,” he posted to the social-networking site Facebook.
Conducting the referendum during local elections would not be conducive for the DPP, and has only rendered it vulnerable to KMT attacks, according to Su Huan-chih.
Moreover, the DPP headquarters does not quite understand yet that nuclear energy policy is an issue for the central — not local — government, and that the DPP needs to organize a national — not local — referendum, he said.
For a national referendum to be valid, Taiwan law requires that half of eligible voters cast a ballot, and more than half of the ballots cast are “yes” votes. Therefore, the chances of ending construction on Nuke No. 4 via a national referendum are extremely slim, he said.