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June 24, 2017

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DPP Chairwoman Tsai calls for legislative, referendum change

TAIPEI -- The opposition Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) newly elected Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen yesterday called for increasing the number of seats in Taiwan's Legislature, arguing that the change would help the body better reflect popular opinion.

Tsai also echoed an appeal by other opposition politicians to lower the turnout threshold referendums in Taiwan need to attain to be considered valid.

She added, however, that the existing requirement for 50 percent of eligible voters to cast ballots for a referendum should be maintained for certain issues.

A day after winning the chairmanship election, Tsai wrote in a letter to a local newspaper that the most pressing issue with Taiwan's constitutional government lies in "the disconnect between what the parliament does and what the people want."

Citing the controversies over a trade-in-services agreement with China and the future of Taiwan's fourth nuclear power plant as examples, Tsai contended that the majority party in the Legislature — the Kuomintang (KMT) — stood on the opposite side of popular majorities.

With the high threshold for referendums, she said, it was impossible to use them to make up for the deficiencies in Taiwan's representative politics.

The situation represents the biggest crisis of Taiwan's democracy and underscores the need for constitutional reform, Tsai argued.

To make the Legislative Yuan better reflect public opinion, she suggested making the number of seats held by each party more proportionate to the parties' share of the popular vote and allowing smaller parties more room in the body.

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