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Proposal to enlarge Legislature meets with mixed reception
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-05-17 06:02 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A proposal from opposition Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Su Tseng-chang to increase the size of the Legislative Yuan met with a mixed reception Saturday.

The proposal formed part of a package of ideas for constitutional reform presented by Su at a DPP-sponsored forum Friday.

Most reactions suggested that raising the efficiency of the Legislature was more important than changing its size. Over the past twenty years, the Legislative Yuan has been expanded and reduced in size several times, with a cut in half to its present 113 seats being realized in 2004 with the support of the DPP’s President Chen Shui-bian and former party chairman Lin Yi-hsiung.

Su said that a range from 200 to 300 seats would be more reflective of the size of the country’s population, which stands at 23 million.

The major problem with the Legislative Yuan was not its size but the fact that not every single vote was worth as much as the other, Taipei City independent mayoral contender Ko Wen-je said Saturday. One lawmaker represented the sparsely populated island of Matsu but one other legislator also represented Panchiao, the populous district functioning as the seat of the New Taipei City Government, Ko said.

The design of the Constitution did have its flaws if there was such a vast gap in representation for public opinion and population size, according to the mayoral candidate. He said that Su’s proposal to expand the number of “at-large” legislators, elected on party lists according to proportional representation, would not set the situation straight.

The biggest problem was how to adapt the Legislative Yuan to make it more representative, Ko said, pointing out that the size of the United States Congress was much smaller proportionally than Taiwan’s Legislature.

Turning to accusations that the DPP was flip-flopping on the size issue, Ko said that each era had its own political climate which needed to be taken into consideration. The most important thing was to make changes which would benefit the country, he concluded.

Vice President Wu Den-yih said that the key issue was not the size of the Legislative Yuan, but its quality and its efficiency. He hit out at the opposition practice of occupying the podium to prevent a meeting from taking place, saying that if there were even more lawmakers, the situation might be more chaotic.

New Taipei City Mayor Eric Liluan Chu, just like Wu a senior member of the ruling Kuomintang, said any change in size would need other measures to raise the quality of the legislative assembly.

DPP Taipei City Councilor Liang Wen-chieh said that the existing system with most of the 113 lawmakers elected in single-member districts was promoting conflict by making opposition areas even more strongly pro-opposition and KMT strongholds even more KMT. The end result was that many lawmakers did not have to compete for votes because they were certain of being re-elected, Liang said.

He proposed a size of 160 seats but with the reintroduction of election districts with several members. Instead of having eight single-member districts, Taipei City should have two districts with four lawmakers each, Liang said. Only one out of eight Taipei City legislators belonged to the DPP now, while previously there were often three or four opposition lawmakers, he said.

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