Parliament of Taiwan

Legislative Yuan
立法院
Lìfǎ Yuàn
8th Legislative Yuan
Type
Type Unicameral
Leadership
President Wang Jin-pyng, Kuomintang
Since 1 February 1999
Vice President Hung Hsiu-chu, Kuomintang
Since 1 February 2012
Secretary-General Lin Hsi-shan
Deputy Secretary-General Chester Chou
Structure
Seats 113 (List)
Political groups      Chinese Nationalist Party
     People First Party
     Taiwan Solidarity Union
     Democratic Progressive Party
     Non-Partisan Solidarity Union
     Independents
Elections
Last election 14 January 2012
Meeting place
The Legislative Yuan in Taipei
Website
www.ly.gov.tw (English)

The Legislative Yuan (Chinese: 立法院; pinyin: Lìfǎ Yuàn; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Li̍p-hoat Īⁿ) is the unicameral legislature of the Republic of China (ROC).

The Legislative Yuan is one of the five branches (called 'yuàn', "courts") of government stipulated by the Constitution of the Republic of China, which follows Sun Yat-sen's Three Principles of the People. Although sometimes referred to as a "parliament", the Legislative Yuan, under Sun's political theory, is a branch of government, while only the National Assembly of the Republic of China (now abolished), with the power to amend the constitution and formerly to elect the President and Vice President, could be considered a parliament. However, after constitutional amendments effectively transferring almost all of the National Assembly's powers to the Legislative Yuan in the late 1990s, it has become more common in Taiwanese newspapers to refer to the Legislative Yuan as the "parliament" (國會, guóhuì).

Composition

Main article: List of Legislative Yuan members elected in the Republic of China legislative election, 2012



Starting with the 2008 legislative elections, drastic changes were made to the Legislative Yuan in accordance with a constitutional amendment passed in 2005. The Legislative Yuan has 113 members, down from 225. Legislators come to office through the following ways:

Members serve four-year terms.

The previous legislature had 225 members. Legislators were elected in the following ways:

  • 168 were elected by popular vote through single non-transferable vote in multi-member consistencies
  • 41 were elected on the basis of the proportion of nationwide votes received by participating political parties.
  • Eight were allocated for overseas Chinese and were selected by the parties on the basis of the proportion of votes received nationwide.
  • Eight seats were reserved for the aboriginal populations.

Legislative role and fist fights during parliament session

The Legislative Yuan has the power to pass all ordinary legislation. The amount of control the Legislative Yuan has over the Executive Yuan was unclear throughout the 1990s, but a convention has developed that the Executive Yuan is responsible to the President of the Republic of China and not the Legislative Yuan.

Much of the work of the Legislative Yuan is done via legislative committees, and a common sight on Taiwanese television involves officials of the executive branch answering extremely hostile questions from opposition members in committees. In the 1990s, there were a number of cases of fist fights breaking out on the floor, usually triggered by some perceived unfair procedure ruling, but in recent years, these have become less common. There was a brawl involving 50 legislators in January 2007 and an incident involving 40 legislators on 8 May 2007 when a speaker attempted to speak about reconfiguring the Central Election Committee. It has been alleged that fights are staged and planned in advance.[1] These antics led the scientific humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research to award the Legislative Yuan its Ig Nobel Peace Prize in 1995 "for demonstrating that politicians gain more by punching, kicking and gouging each other than by waging war against other nations."[2]

The other Yuans are authorized to propose legislative bills to the Legislative Yuan. Legislative bills proposed by the Legislative Yuan have to be cosigned by a certain number of legislators. Once a bill reaches the legislature, it is subject to a process of three readings.

History


The original Legislative Yuan was formed in the original Capital of Nanjing after the completion of the Northern Expedition. Its 51 members were appointed to a term of two years. The 4th Legislative Yuan under this period had its members expanded to 194, and its term in office was extended to 14 years because of the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–45). According to KMT political theory, these first four sessions marked the period of political tutelage.

The current Constitution of the Republic of China came into effect on December 25, 1947 and the first Legislative session convened in Nanking on May 18, 1948 with 760 members. Six preparatory meetings had been held on May 8, 1948 they, during which Dr. Sun Fo and Mr. Chen Li-fu were elected President and Vice President of the body, respectively. In 1949, the mainland fell to the Communists and the Legislative Yuan (along with the entire ROC government) was transplanted to Taipei. On February 24, 1950, 380 members convened at the Sun Yat-sen Hall in Taipei.

The first Legislative Yuan was to have been elected for a term of three years ending in 1951; however, the fall of the Mainland made it impossible to hold new elections.[3] As a result, the Judicial Yuan decided that the members of the Legislative Yuan would continue to hold office until new elections could be held on the Mainland. This decision was made in the belief that the KMT would retake the Mainland in a short time. However, over the years, as the prospect of regaining the Mainland diminished, this meant that the legislators from mainland districts (and members of the ruling KMT) held their seats for life, in a one-party system. The body thus came to be called "the Non-reelected Congress."[3]

Over the years, deceased members elected on the mainland were not replaced while additional seats were created for Taiwan starting with eleven seats in 1969. Fifty-one new members were elected to a three-year term in 1972, fifty-two in 1975, ninety-seven in 1980, ninety-eight in 1983, one hundred in 1986, and one hundred thirty in 1989. Although the elected members of the Legislative Yuan did not have the majority to defeat legislation, they were able to use the Legislative Yuan as a platform to express political dissent. Opposition parties were formally illegal until 1991, but in the 1970s candidates to the Legislative Yuan would run as Tangwai ("outside the party"), and in 1985 candidates began to run under the banner of the Democratic Progressive Party.

The original members of the Legislative Yuan remained until December 31, 1991, when as part of subsequent Judicial Yuan ruling they were forced to retire and the members elected in 1989 remained until the 161 members of the Second Legislative Yuan were elected in December 1992. The third LY, elected in 1995, had 157 members serving 3-year terms. The fourth LY, elected in 1998, was expanded to 225 members in part to include legislators from the abolished provincial legislature of Taiwan Province.

The Legislative Yuan greatly increased its prominence after the 2000 Presidential elections in Taiwan when the Executive Yuan and presidency was controlled by the Democratic Progressive Party while the Legislative Yuan had a large majority of Kuomintang members. The legislative elections in late 2001 produced a contentious situation in which the pan-blue coalition has only a thin majority over the governing pan-green coalition in the legislature,[4] making the passage of bills often dependent on the votes of a few defectors and independents. Because of the party situation there have been constitutional conflicts between the Legislative Yuan and the executive branch over the process of appointment for the premier and whether the president has the power to call a special session.

Amid 70% public support, the Legislative Yuan voted 217-1 on August 23, 2004 for a package of amendments to:

  • halve the number of seats from 225 to 113
  • switch to a single-member district parallel voting electoral system
  • increase the terms of members from 3 to 4 years, to synchronize the legislative and presidential elections. (It is unclear whether this will be implemented for the next presidential and legislative elections.)

The new electoral system will include 73 plurality seats (one for each electoral district), 6 seats for aboriginals, with the remaining 34 seats to be filled from party lists. Every county has a minimum of 1 electoral district, thereby guaranteed at least one seat in the legislature, while half of the proportionally represented seats drawn from party lists must be women.

Additionally, the Legislative Yuan proposed to abolish the National Assembly. Future amendments would still be proposed by the LY by a three-fourths vote from a quorum of at least three-fourths of all members of the Legislature. After a mandatory 180-day promulgation period, the amendment would have to be ratified by an absolute majority of all eligible voters of the ROC irrespective of voter turnout. The latter requirement would allow a party to kill a referendum proposal by asking that their voters boycott the vote as was done by the KMT with the referendums associated with the 2004 Presidential Election.

A DPP proposal to allow the citizen right to initiate constitutional referendums was pulled off the table due to a lack of support. The proposal for a right to initiative was criticized for dangerously lowering the threshold for considering a constitutional amendment. Whereas a three-fourth vote of the LY would require that any proposed constitutional amendment have a broad political consensus behind it, a citizen's initiative would allow a fraction of the electorate to force a constitutional referendum. It was feared that allowing this to occur would result in a referendum on Taiwan independence which would likely result in a crisis with the People's Republic of China.

The Legislative Yuan also proposed to give itself the power to summon the president for an annual "state of the nation" address and launch a recall of the president and vice president (proposed by one fourth and approved by two thirds of the legislators and be submitted to a nationwide referendum for approval or rejection by majority vote). The Legislative Yuan will also have the power to propose the impeachment of the president or vice president to the Council of Grand Justices.

An ad hoc National Assembly was elected and formed in 2005 to ratify the amendments. The downsized Legislative Yuan took effect after the 2008 elections.

On July 20, 2007, the Legislative Yuan passed a Lobbying Act.[5]

See also

References

External links

  • Republic of China Legislative Yuan Official site

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