The Movement To Amend The Birdcage Referendum Law

The Movement To Amend The Birdcage Referendum Law

Youth activists have in recent years taken to calling for reform of public referendum laws in order to settle longstanding political issues

As an artifact of the history of the Republic of China, the ROC constitution contains provisions for direct referendum by the people, something which has been proposed as a means to settle crucial political issues which would affect all of Taiwan ranging from nuclear energy to that of Taiwanese independence. Several referendum questions have been asked of the Taiwanese people in national elections since 2003, through changes made under the Chen administration. As esteemed Taiwan expert Lawrence Eyton put it in 2003, passage of the referendum act was a “landmark in the island’s democratization equal to the 1994 decision to hold direct presidential elections.”

Photo credit: 中岑 范姜/Flickr/CC

Calling for referendum as a way to settle the question of Taiwanese independence has been a longstanding demand of Taiwanese independence activists such as the Alliance of Referendum for Taiwan, again, with the view that referendum could be a way to settle the question of Taiwanese independence, but with the rise in calls for Taiwanese independence from young people, calls have been on the rise in recent years for amendment of the “Birdcage Referendum Act” (鳥籠公投法) in order to lower the benchmarks needed to hold a public referendum, which are currently seen as prohibitively high. One can situate such calls alongside aspirations towards direct democracy from members of Taiwanese civil society, given the apparent impasse and breakdown of legislative representation if elected Taiwanese legislators seemed all too happy to shrug off the will of the Taiwanese people.


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Photo credit: Abby Chen/Flickr/CC