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Taiwan passes law to bar convicted felons from running in elections

Amendments to the Election and Recall Act will cover 2024 presidential and legislative elections

Legislators express their views about the amendments at the Legislative Yuan Friday morning.

Legislators express their views about the amendments at the Legislative Yuan Friday morning. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — People convicted for offenses related to organized crime, guns, drugs, and national security will no longer be allowed to stand in elections, according to an amendment passed by the Legislative Yuan on Friday (May 26).

The amendments to the Election and Recall Act were valid for all government posts, including the presidential and legislative elections scheduled for Jan. 13, 2024, Radio Taiwan International (RTI) reported. Thanks to its majority in the Legislative Yuan, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) passed the version of the amendment proposed by the Tsai administration.

The convictions covered by the new legislation included vote buying, sedition, corruption, dealing illegal drugs and weapons, money laundering, other organized crimes, as well as violations of national security laws. After an individual receives a final guilty verdict in a case, they will be banned from registering as a candidate in any future elections, even in cases of defendants receiving a suspended sentence.

Former President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was reportedly unhappy about the DPP approving the legislation, as it would end the political career of his son, Chen Chih-chung (陳致中). The younger Chen, who was elected to the Kaohsiung City Council for the DPP, began serving a one-year jail sentence last month after being found guilty of money laundering.

Some observers suggest that the DPP's decision to amend the Election and Recall Act was spurred by the election of Zhong Dongjin (鍾東錦), who is serving as the county executive of Miaoli. Zhong has a lengthy criminal record and previously served a prison sentence for his role in a homicide, before he was elected to office in Taiwan's nine-in-one municipal elections in 2022.