China Times: Constitutional reform not workable

Soon after she was elected chairwoman of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Tsai Ing-wen published an article in the local newspapers, proposing constitutional reform in the form of adjusting the legislative election system and lowering the threshold for referendums. In raising the issue of constitutional reform, Tsai not only picked the wrong question but also gave the wrong answer. On the legislative election system, Tsai advocated a mixed-member proportional representation system similar to Germany's to replace Taiwan's semi-proportional system. She blamed the election system for the DPP's failure to gain a majority in the Legislature, saying that under the current system, the votes obtained by political parties are not reflected in the number of seats they actually obtain. She therefore concluded that the Legislature is "out of touch with public opinion." Tsai, however, deliberately evaded a fact: no matter how unpopular the Kuomintang administration is at present, it was elected by the majority of Taiwanese voters in the last presidential election. Tsai also argued that shifting to a mixed-member proportional representation system will create the possibility of a "minimum winning coalition." But how would that be possible without adopting the German parliamentary model as well? The combination of a presidential system and a mixed-member proportional representation system will never add up to a "minimum winning coalition." Instead, that will lead to endless partisan confrontations as seen in many Latin American countries. Under the present circumstances, it is almost impossible to launch any constitutional reform. Tsai was only trying to make an excuse to justify the DPP's refusal to admit its defeat and its constant obstruction in the Legislature. (Editorial abstract -- May 31, 2014) (By Y.F. Low)