DPP Chair Su Tseng-chang’s remarks on Constitutional Deadlocks at the Constitutional Government Forum held by the New Frontier Foundation

Recently, DPP Chair Su Tseng-Chang attended the Constitutional Government Forum hosted by the New Frontier Foundation. The New Frontier Foundation, based within the DPP, serves as a research institution to help the party understand the needs of the party’s constituents and devise policies to serve them. Speaking at the event, Chair Su suggested several areas in which the constitution can be reformed to better streamline the political process.

Citing political deadlocks due to disagreements by political parties at the Legislative Yuan, Chair Su suggested lowering the threshold for the passage of referendums to bypass such controversies. However, the constitution currently requires ¼ of the total number of legislators to approve the proposal, ¾ of legislators' participation, and 50% of eligible voter participation in order to become valid. With such requirements, referendums, even with majority support, have little chance of passing, turning the clock back once again to political deadlock reemerging. Therefore, Chair Su concludes, the constitutional mechanisms regarding the passage of referendums must be lowered to improve upon the current political system.

Amending the constitution to increase the number of seats in the Legislative Yuan should also be a step Taiwan should move forward with. Currently, the Legislative Yuan consists of 113 representatives from around the country. However, according to Chair Su, with a population of 23 million, our representative to citizen ratio lags behind that of other developed democracies. In order to competitively match them, we need to increase the number of representatives to approximately 200 or 300. Increasing the rate of representation would also benefit minority and youth groups with better representation.

Up to now, the design of Taiwan's constitution to disband the legislature relies on the passage of a no confidence motion. The head of the executive branch lacks the authority to disband the Legislative Yuan. Thus, every executive administration sees significant controversies. These repeated deadlocks hinder decision making on important new policies. It is imperative that we consider altering the constitution to resolve these tasks.

While the altering of the constitution in the past didn't live up to the expectations of the public, that mistake should not impede on future decisions. A system that the majority of the Taiwanese people can accept must be strive for. Only by building a system supported by the majority will the public want to abide by its regulations. This is the only way to avoid public distrust. The constant political games are starting to erode the quality of the country's democratic system.

To respond to the public's new wave of momentum for reform, the DPP has set up a division within the party just to study the concerns of citizens in drafting up possible ways of amending the constitution. Through their research, the DPP hopes to collaborate jointly with these individuals and groups and reestablish trust between the people and government in the process.