KMT seeking to lower voting age before Taiwan's 2022 elections

Party proposes constitutional amendments to lower voting age to 18, age of candidacy to 20

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New KMT Chairman Chiang Chi-chen

New KMT Chairman Chiang Chi-chen (CNA photo)

Taiwan's main opposition party, the Kuomintang (KMT), expressed hope Sunday that a recent proposal raised by the party to lower the legal voting age to 18 by means of constitutional amendment can be realized soon and put into practice before the 2022 local government elections.

The proposal by the KMT to amend the Constitution to lower the legal voting age to 18 from the current 20 and lower the age of candidacy to 20 from 23 was sent to committee review Friday (March 27).

The party's newly elected chairman, Chiang Chi-chen (江啟臣), then called on the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to establish a constitutional reform committee to discuss the issue.

Speaking during a press event Sunday, KMT legislative deputy caucus whip Lin Yi-hua (林奕華) said the party hopes that the proposal will be supported by the public and that the amendments to the Constitution can be passed soon.

KMT Deputy Secretary-General Ko Chih-en (柯志恩), meanwhile, said the century-old KMT has long been regarded as out of touch with young voters. The party's decision to become the first political party in Taiwan to propose constitutional amendments to lower the voting age thus serves as evidence that it is serious about conducting reform and closing the gap with the younger generation, Ko added.

In response to the KMT's call, DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said Saturday that his party has been a long-term supporter of both lowering the legal voting age and the age of candidacy.

The party will propose its own versions of the constitutional amendments and form a constitutional reform committee to deal with the matter within the Legislative Yuan, Ko added.

A constitutional amendment committee is an ad hoc body under the Legislative Yuan that requires the participation of at least 33 percent of all 113 lawmakers, with its makeup determined by the proportion of seats each party caucus has on the legislative floor. In Taiwan, a revision to the Referendum Act that took effect in January 2018 lowered the voting age for referendums from 20 to 18.

Lowering the voting age in general elections and the age of candidacy, however, can only be done by amending the Constitution. Such an amendment would be challenging because a motion to amend the Constitution must be sponsored by at least 25 percent of legislators to be valid and approved by at least 75 percent of the members present at a meeting attended by at least 75 percent of the 113 lawmakers.

After the Legislative Yuan passes the resolution to amend the Constitution, it must be referred to a national referendum six months after the government's announcement of the proposed amendment. The referendum needs to be passed by more than half of the total number of eligible voters, which stood at over 19.31 million in 2020, according to Article 12 of the Additional Articles of the Constitution of the Republic of China.