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KMT surrenders in ballot flap

KMT surrenders in ballot flap

Saturday's announcement by the opposition Kuomintang marks a significant victory for the consolidation of Taiwan's democratic and legal order as well as a setback for the credibility of the former authoritarian party's political judgement.
Just days after the Democratic Progressive Party-led Executive Yuan to replace city and county election commission chairpersons who refused to abide by last November's resolution by the Central Election Commission to implement a "single-step" collection and casting process, KMT Legislative Yuan caucus convener Tseng You-chuan announced Saturday the right-wing opposition party's decision to call off the campaign by its 18 city and county mayors to impose a "two-step" system that would have divided voting in January 12 Legislative Yuan polls and concurrent referenda.
Tseng claimed that the KMT leadership, including KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou and KMT Chairman Wu Po-hsiung, had taken the decision "for the sake of the overall situation" and "prevent the DPP from postponing the election," but the KMT lawmaker was merely trying to whitewash the fact that the KMT folded its cards after the DPP government called its bluff.
The claims by Tseng and the pro-KMT media that the opposition camp "accepted a compromise version" is nothing more than hot air as what the KMT has "accepted" is nothing else but the "single-stage" process approved by the CEC in November.
Since the Referendum Law imposes different residency requirements for voters in the Referendum Law of November 2003 (six months) compared to the four months required for legislative polls, two separate tables to hand out the two legislative ballots and the two referenda ballots were required from the very beginning.
Moreover, CEC Chairman Chang Cheng-hsiung has repeatedly for the past two months that voters could decline to accept any of the ballots.
Role reversal
The fanatic insistence of the KMT camp on the "two-stage" system in defiance of the legally authorized CEC resolution deliberately aimed achieve a "triple-win."
By combining the two-step system with a boycott of the referenda through the agency of the right-wing Chinese New Party, the KMT aimed to block he valid passage of the DPP-initiated referendum on the repossession of the KMT's ill-gotten party assets, push down the overall voting turnout for the Legislative Yuan election and exposing the preferences of voters, especially in small voter stations and rural areas in order to expose pro-DPP voters to "persuasion," friendly or otherwise, in advance of the March 22 presidential election.
However, in the wake of its stubborn insistence on defying the legally grounded decision by the CEC, the KMT, once the party of brutal authoritarian order, was painting itself into the corner of being a "lawbreaking" party that would bear all the political and possibly criminal responsibility for any chaos and conflicts caused by its actions in the January 12 polls or facing a major plunge in political credibility if it backed down.
The KMT has wisely chosen the latter and less damaging course.
Besides the fact that practice exercises of the "two-step" system showed that chaos would result, the KMT's ultimate retreat resulted from a strong public counterreaction against the arrogant and self-serving declaration of the KMT and its 18 city and county mayors that they would use their "two-stage" system in defiance of the CEC resolution.
Polls commissioned by the DPP revealed that an overwhelming majority of citizens opposed the stubborn insistence of the KMT and its mayors on "their own way or no way" and Saturday's decision by the KMT to throw in the towel hints that the KMT's own opinion surveys produced similar results.
Another decisive factor was the intensifying determination of the DPP-led Executive Yuan to implement the CEC authorized "single-stage" system and block the emergence of "one country, two systems" and to protect the constitutional rights of citizens for a secret vote.
The stand by DPP Premier Chang Chun-hsiung that the government would uphold "the rule of law" and forcefully act to ensure a smooth, stable and credible election with an unitary legally mandated system secured for the DPP affirmation as the party of "democracy, law and order" while the KMT was showing that it was willing to disrupt the Legislative elections solely for the sake of its own pecuniary and partisan interests.
The DPP-led government's decision late last week to cashier KMT Taipei City Election Commission chairman Wu Kuang-hsiu for defying last Monday's ultimatum to abide by the CEC resolution showed that the Executive Yuan would back up its decisions with resolute and legally grounded action.
Combined with retreats by KMT mayors in Hsinchu, Taitung County and wavering in other districts, the KMT had little choice but concede, even though close monitoring will be required by the government to ensure that such concession is substantial and not a ploy.
Blank ballot solution
Although the result bolstered the authority and credibility of the DPP government and the CEC, the "single-step" system is still far from perfect since it would still allow the exposure of voter preference in the decision by citizens to accept or reject the ballots for the two referenda, even though the restriction of all activity to a single room with a single exit will sharply reduce the degree of exposure compared to the KMT version and inhibit "contract" vote buying.
A superior solution would be to require voters to accept all ballots but also permit them to cast complete blank ballots into the referenda ballot boxes without such ballots being counted as "invalid" votes but merely noted as a "non-vote" that will not be included in the calculation for the turnout quorum.
This method would both completely protect the fundamental constitutional right of voters for secret voting and also permit persons who wished to oppose the referenda through boycott instead of a "no" vote to do so.
Besides ensuring the complete secrecy of the decision made by each citizen in the ballot box, adoption of this system would completely dissolve any justification for a "two-stage" vote collection and casting system and thus prevent any of its negative consequences, including exposure of voter preferences or any of the confusion and possible conflicts that will undoubtedly arise when some voters accept referenda ballots and others do not.


Updated : 2021-05-08 01:52 GMT+08:00