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Taiwan Legislature approves lowering of voting age to 18

Referendum expected by the end of the year

Legislators mark the approval of a proposal Friday to lower the voting age to 18. 

Legislators mark the approval of a proposal Friday to lower the voting age to 18.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Legislative Yuan on Friday (March 25) approved the lowering of the voting age to 18, but the necessary constitutional amendment will still need to be submitted to a referendum.

The proposal to lower the minimum voting age from 20 to 18 in line with most other democracies has been debated for years. The measure received overwhelming backing, with 109 out of 113 legislators voting in favor, and none against, CNA reported.

As the change needs a revision of the Constitution, it still has to be approved in a referendum, widely expected to be held on the same day as local and regional elections in November. At least half of all eligible voters, or a total of 9.65 million people, will have to cast a ballot in favor of the amendment, with those under 20 not yet allowed to participate.

If the change is approved, Taiwanese citizens will not only have the right to vote in elections and referendums from the age of 18, but also to be elected to legislative bodies.

As the vote at the Legislative Yuan approached Friday morning, students gathered outside to express their support for the change. At a meeting, the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) caucus decided to ask its members to vote in favor, making sure the proposal could pass.

A constitutional amendment needs at least three fourths of the 113 legislators to attend and three fourths of those attending to vote in favor. The 61 lawmakers from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), five from the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) and three from the New Power Party (NPP) needed at least some of the 39 KMT legislators to join them to reach the necessary minimum of 82 votes in favor.