Taiwan law bans political parties from running businesses

New act also lowers threshold for subsidies to political parties

The Legislative Yuan passed the Political Party Act Friday. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A long-awaited Political Party Act passed its third reading at the Legislative Yuan Friday, banning political parties from running or investing in for-profit businesses and making life for small parties easier.

The assets of the Kuomintang (KMT, 國民黨), the party which ruled Taiwan from 1945 to 2000 and again from 2008 until last year, have always been a topic of controversy, with opponents saying its businesses provided an unfair advantage, especially during election campaigns.

Over the past year, a newly formed Ill-Gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee (不當黨產處理委員會) has been looking into the KMT’s business interests.

The new act, which should come into force within a few weeks, only allows political parties to buy their own offices, but not to invest in other real estate or businesses in general.

Violations will be fined between NT$5 million (US$165,000) and NT$25 million (US$827,000), the Central News Agency reported.

In an effort to expand breathing room for new parties, the threshold for political parties to receive government subsidies will be lowered from 3.5 percent to 3 percent of the votes in a legislative election. Any party which passes the threshold will receive NT$50 per vote per year until the next legislative election, reports said.

The names and logos of new parties could not be too similar to existing groups and could also not express any hatred or controversy, according to supporters of the new law.

The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (民進黨) welcomed the approval of the proposals as another major step in the direction of a normal democracy, 30 years after the end of Martial Law.