Taiwan lawmakers brawl during vote for Central Election Commission chair

Former Yunlin County Magistrate Lee Chin-yung was confirmed despite KMT opposition

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Legislators scuffle over a confirmation vote for the new Central Election Commission chairman Tuesday May 28.

Legislators scuffle over a confirmation vote for the new Central Election Commission chairman Tuesday May 28. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Lawmakers from the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) tore down voting booths and brawled with colleagues from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in order to prevent voting for a new chairman of the Central Election Commission (CEC) Tuesday (May 28).

The government had named former DPP lawmaker, Keelung City mayor and Yunlin County Magistrate Lee Chin-yung (李進勇) to serve as head of the CEC. However, the KMT claims he is too partisan to serve in what should be a politically neutral and independent position.

By 7 a.m. Tuesday, both camps were already out in force inside the main Legislative Yuan assembly hall, with the KMT trying to occupy the speaker’s dais to prevent voting from beginning, while DPP legislators tried to pull them away and regain control.

Around 8:30 a.m., KMT lawmakers removed the voting booths, in the process injuring Legislative Yuan staff, which earned a condemnation of violence from Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全), the Central News Agency reported.

After DPP legislators succeeded in pushing and shoving their KMT colleague to one side of the dais, Su finally entered the hall at 9:50 a.m. to proclaim a start to voting three minutes later.

However, KMT lawmakers ripped a voting booth apart and sat on top of the remains to prevent voting from continuing, leading the speaker to demand the setting up of separate new ballot booths, which were protected by DPP legislators to allow voting to go ahead, according to the CNA report.

In the end, only one out of four ballot boxes continued operating amid repeated brawls and clashes, involving the throwing of water and lawmakers pulling each other to the floor.

Voting lasted until 4 p.m., and as expected since the DPP controls an absolute majority of the 113 seats at the Legislative Yuan, Lee won confirmation with 65 votes. Before the results became known, one member of the CEC resigned in protest, CNA reported.