Lower voting age moves forward
Lawmakers hope for Constitutional Amendment Committee after summer
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-05-30 03:09 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Proposals to lower the voting age to 18 moved forward at the Legislative Yuan Friday, raising the likelihood of constitutional reform after the summer.

Only the formation of a Constitutional Amendment Committee could deal with the topic, but this was not likely until the next legislative session, according to Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng. The committee has to consist of one third of all current 112 lawmakers plus one, divided according to party lines in the overall Legislature.

Lowering the voting age to 18 from 20 became an important topic of conversation after the March 18-April 10 occupation of the Legislature by mostly student activists. Tsai Ing-wen, who took over as chairwoman of the Democratic Progressive Party on Wednesday, has emphasized the need to involve young people in all fields of politics.

On Friday morning, a full meeting of the Legislative Yuan agreed to pass separate proposals from Kuomintang legislator Lu Shiow-yen and DPP lawmakers Lawrence Kao and Cheng Li-chiun on to the next phase, which is a review by the Constitutional Amendment Committee. It was not immediately clear when the caucuses would sit together to discuss the committee’s formation and composition.

Kao and Cheng said the sooner the committee could begin work, the better. Cheng suggested a special session of the Legislative Yuan, already planned to take place from early June until early July, could also handle the voting age. However, she also warned that any attempts at amending the Constitution would face high hurdles, including a referendum.

Lu said caucus leaders could give up their summer holiday and work hard to form the constitutional committee instead, though she warned against lawmakers using the issue to push for other constitutional changes as well, including the abolition of the Control Yuan, the top government watchdog. Introducing other issues on to the constitutional committee’s agenda would needlessly complicate the situation, she said.

The necessary national vote on constitutional amendments would most likely have to take place on the same day as the 2016 presidential election, Lu said.

A constitutional amendment can be proposed by at least one fourth of all lawmakers, with at least three fourths taking part in a vote and three fourths of those legislators approving the amendment before it can become the subject of a referendum.

The way Taiwan’s referendums are organized has consistently come under fire because of the high thresholds needed for them to pass.

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