Seats on the Central Election Commission

I just watched Chairman Ma interviewed on CNN. Actually, I only saw the last twelve minutes or so. Toward the end, I thought the journalist (I failed to register her name) could have had Ma spill the beans. If only she had stayed silent instead of interupting him.

She asked about the brawling in the legislature. Ma said in a “normal” democracy when a party controls 50% of the seats in legislature it can (I forget the phrasing exactly) make policy, but in Taiwan the executive doesn’t always respect the wishes of the majority.

She cut him off then to reexplain her question as something along the lines of, but what does it mean, this brawling?

I think he was on very thin ice. She should have let him go on. She might have then asked Ma if he had heard of filibustering.

He was obviously refering to the CEC bill. Is it just me, or does that bill seem like one that would get filibustered in any “normal democracy”?

As I understand things, one of the cornerstones of successful representative democracy is the seperation of government into three branches, legislative, executive and judicial. Their powers are seperated to reduce corruption in general and for various usually obvious reasons.

I’m no expert, but it seems to me that the power to appoint seats on a national elections committee would normally go to the executive branch with appointments outlasting the presidential term considerably. It would NEVER be given to the legislative branch, least not to empower them to hire and fire at will seats on the election committee, as they seem to be jousting for at least this once. (And who knows what other convenient bills they could dream up and then force through using the principles of “normal democracy.”)

Am I wrong about these things? I am speculating from my imagination and perhaps some unconscious past learning, but not any recent boning up.

You’re overly generalizing.
There are plenty of ways of organizing these things. The trick to any effective means is to take partisan politics out of the nuts and bolts mechanics of the system as far as possible. Rotten boroughs, gerrymandering, fixed voter lists, the location and limitations on the number of polling stations… all great means of skewing the system. And all the safeguards in the world won’t help if there isn’t a commitment to the system as well as to power: remember the redistricting fiasco in Texas a couple years ago?
This is more of the same. Right now, it’s the KMT that wants to change the system; the DPP will be crying for reform when the poll results go the other way.

The United States isn’t the only political system on this planet, although I guess it’s not a surprise most Americans think otherwise. I won’t bother with examples from more exotic countries. But it seems you’re unfamiliar with how things are done in the United Kingdom, the US’s most reliable international ally.

In the United Kingdom, the legislative branch (parliament) dominates all. The executive branch (specifically the form of the prime minister) serves at the pleasure of Parliament alone. Tony Blair is likely out of office the instant his party loses the majority position in parliament.

And in most countries, “filibuster” doesn’t include the locking of parliament doors or the eating of controversial bills. Even in the United States, there’s a legal procedure by which filibuster can be bypassed (requiring 3/5th of legislators to vote in favor). In Taiwan, the only way to end the DPP filibuster on the CEC bill is to bring bodyguards and hand-cuffs. That’s the DPP-flavor of “democracy” for you.

[quote=“cctang”]
The United States isn’t the only political system on this planet, although I guess it’s not a surprise most Americans think otherwise. [/quote]
Ooh. Good one. And I’m not American. I’m Canadian, and I understand my own country’s political system almost as well as the American system, so there. And I still spell honor with a u about 30% of the time.

But I wish you would, w.r.t. how election committees (or boards or whatever) are chosen.

Thay may be true, and I’m not too familiar with the UK. But I once read a pretty convincing article that argued that the Canadian Prime Minister enjoyed more direct power, relatively speaking, than the US President. It is a debatable point I guess. But my point is that there are parallels to the three branch system whether you’re using a parliamentary PM system or a congressional presidential system. In Canada, please correct me if I’m wrong, the PM nominates election officials. They likely need approval by the House.

True. Things are definitely more “physical” in Taiwan. But the principle is the same, isn’t it? In Canada they occupy the Speaker’s seat on occassion I believe.

But what I really want to know is, are there any countries where the election board is appointed in the way the KMT/PFP currently propose? If not, why should the DPP deliver anything less than a determined filibuster?

Alright the American thing was a cheap shot anyways. :slight_smile: I was just taking a guess.

But again, in the UK, parliament dominates everything. They can fire the head of the executive branch any time they want. They have absolute power over any electoral procedure. If Taiwan was the United Kingdom, and the KMT had an absolute majority in Parliament… not only could they determine rules on the structure of the election commitee, Chen Shui-bian would already be out of office.

Looks like even in the United States, what the KMT is trying to do with the election committee would be absolutely legal:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_El … Commission

“The Federal Election Commission (or FEC) is an independent regulatory agency created in 1974 by the United States Congress to administer and enforce campaign finance legislation in the United States. … By law, no more than three Commissioners can be members of the same political party, and at least four votes are required for any official Commission action.”

In other words, of course the United States Congress could amend the 1974 law to change the structure of the Federal Election Commission. In other words, I don’t see any international precedent for what the DPP is doing.

What the DPP is doing? They’re trying to keep the commission as is, aren’t they? In this case, it is the KMT/PFP that is being pro-active.

How did the CEC come to have ten greens and only two blues on board anyway? I can certainly see how the blues don’t like that. Did the DPP change the rules for filling the commission, or just fill the seats as they became open?

Since there is a filibuster deadlock, why don’t both sides discuss putting in a new system (rather than the proposal the DPP/TSU refuse to budge on), perhaps closer to the US system? But to say the CEC should be reshuffled every 2 or 4 years to reflect the legislative balance seems to be going in the direction of encouraging elected politicians to police themselves. As I suggested earlier, most successful representative democratic systems seek to avoid this, as far as I know (or would guess, I should say.)

The DPP is physically assaulting the speaker in order to keep the legislature from proceeding legally. I know you’re aware of this, and I don’t know exactly how you’re dismissing it. You started by insisting the KMT was behaving inappropriately, and challenging others to bring up examples where the parliament could modify the election system… I think we’ve established that’s perfectly normal in many “democratic” nations.

Now let’s return the favor. Give us the names of nations where what the DPP has done is legal; namely, physically locking the doors of parliament to prevent a vote from being taken (not to mention bill-eating and shoe-throwing).

I think that would be a great idea. In the US, the members of the federal electoral commission are appointed by the president, but confirmed by legislature. In Taiwan, from what I can tell, the CEC was appointed by the premier and confirmed by the president… in other words, legislature doesn’t play a role at all.

Glad to hear you think the parliament should also play a role in deciding the make-up of the CEC. Any idea how to make this happen without the afore-mentioned bodyguards and hand-cuffs for DPP legislators?

Yeah, I know they play it out violently. But let’s say all they do is occupy the Speaker’s chair. Is that okay in your eyes then? I doubt it. You are objecting over something I don’t consider important - the violence. It’s all just drama, and the blues are nearly as guilty as the greens so far as legislative floor brawling goes, and they are far worse than the greens when it comes to public beligerance on the streets. This doesn’t mean I condone violence, but to say it is the real issue here is flat wrong in my book. This is a filibuster over a fundamental issue.

As far as legality goes, how about Li Ao spraying “tear gas” in the legislature. Was he arrested? No. I come from the country of hockey, so maybe state-sanctioned violence just doesn’t surprise me.

Are you sure the legislature doesn’t approve CEC appointees made by the president? Something tells me maybe that was the way it used to be done but the blues blocked every nomination (just because) so the greens managed to “streamline” it. I really don’t know.

Can’t anyone in the know contribute to this thread? Don’t make me do research. I can’t even read Chinese.

CC, do you think the blues refusing to approve absolutely everything put forth by Chen and/or the greens is a fair and democratic tactic? Don’t you think the greens can be forgiven for playing a bit strongly when they are faced with the blue opposition/majority that refuses to budge of everything?

I mean, if they are so unified in their fricking opposition, why the fark are they two fricking parties and not just one? It’s their own collective faults they lost the last two elections. Well, maybe it’s Soong’s fault, but they still love him. But it is their own irrational hatred of Chen that is screwing up the country and frustrating the blues to no end. What did they get out of their stupid red rally but ulcers and constipation?

And where’s the remaining 60 million NTD that the public gave to Shi Ming-duh? Can you say fraud?

I’m not at all concerned about the “violence”. As you said, whether Li Ao or shoe throwing, it’s mostly theatrics.

I’m just boggled by your definition of democracy. This “fundamental issue” at hand is supported by more than 50% of the democratically elected legislature. But a party representing < 50% of the legislature has managed to stop it in its tracks; not by legal or constitutionally-permitted mechanisms, but just by using physical force. I don’t understand how this government can be considered a democracy.

This is also the second time you mentioned “occupying the Speaker’s chair”. I tried googling for related phrases, and could find nothing about this as it relates to Canadian filibuster. If you want to bring that up as a useful example, then you’ll need to do the leg work and explain to us what’s involved. I’m honestly befuddled don’t know how any government can claim to be a “representative democracy” if a policy supported by > 50%, > 75%, > 99% of the legislature can be unilaterally blocked by a minority.

Explain to me how a democracy is supposed to function, in your eyes. When there is a core divisive issue that some in the elected legislature support, and some in the elected legislature oppose… should the majority get their way? Or… no?

taiwannews.com.tw/etn/news_c … _Editorial

At present, the CEC has 17 members who are appointed to three-year terms by the president upon recommendation by the premier. Legislature isn’t involved, unlike any other nation you can name.

That’s obviously untrue. If the greens or Chen proposed dropping cross-strait barriers, permitting the entry of pandas, or reform of the CEC… do you really believe the Blues would oppose those policies? They don’t oppose “everything” put forth by Chen/greens; they oppose everything that they oppose. I have no idea what you believe the Blues should be doing in the legislature.

The Blues have their agenda which often stands in opposition to the Greens agenda, the type of conflict I’d expect in any democratic system anywhere in the world. They also happen to possess > 50% of the seats in the legislature, thanks to the choices of the Taiwanese electorate. In any other democratic system I’m familiar with, that implies they’ve been given a legal and popular mandate to put forth policies they support… as long as it falls within legal/constitutional limitations.

But in Taiwan, and apparently in your eyes, it doesn’t mean much at all. In your view of Taiwanese politics, I don’t even understand why anyone would bother campaigning for the legislature. I can’t figure out what advantage there is to being supported by a majority of the Taiwanese electorate.

Now this is just a bizarre comment. What does the fact that there are “two parties” versus one have to do with anyone? They lost the last two presidential elections, but not the last two legislative elections. As you yourself have pointed out, there’s supposed to be a separation between the executive and legislative branches… right? So why exactly is winning the last two legislative elections apparently a meaningless thing, in your eyes?

On the topic of filibustering only…

[quote] Canada Legislators End Filibuster Over Charter
SPECIAL TO THE NEW YORK TIMES
Published: April 9, 1981

An agreement among the three parties in the House of Commons today ended nearly two weeks of filibustering against Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s proposals for a new Canadian constitution.

Mr. Trudeau and his Liberal Party majority agreed to wait until April 21 for a vote on amendments to the proposals and then to hold off a final vote until the Supreme Court ruled on the legality of the Prime Minister’s move. Mr. Trudeau has asked Britain, without overall provincial consent, to add a bill of rights to the British North America Act of 1867, which serves as Canada’s constitution, and then to hand over the document to Canada. [/quote]

[quote] Canada filibuster of anti-gay marriage bill
In order for the bill to be debated again, the provincial legislature would have to sit again before the Autumn, which it is not scheduled to do
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
[/quote]

[quote]
New Democrats launch filibuster over softwood lumber deal
Published: Tuesday, November 07, 2006
OTTAWA (CP) - A bit of old-fashioned political theatre is being played out in Ottawa today over the Canada-U.S. softwood lumber agreement.

The NDP has introduced nearly 100 proposed changes to Bill C-24 - the legislation that will bring into force the softwood lumber deal with the United States.
B.C. New Democrat Peter Julian is vowing to debate the amendments around the clock if necessary.
And so far, he has been talking almost non-stop, using an Oxford dictionary to debate words such as “the” and “any.” [/quote]

[quote]Filibuster Action Center
About the Filibuster and the “Nuclear Option”
What is the Filibuster?
The filibuster is one of our democracy’s oldest and most important checks on the power of the majority. It preserves two of our bedrock values: protecting the rights of the minority and promoting compromise.

It works like this: If at least 41 senators strongly oppose a bill or nominee, they can vote to continue debate and block a final vote on the issue. A final vote can only be taken if and when the majority wins 60 senators’ votes.

In the context of a Supreme Court battle, the filibuster means that 60 Senate votes may be needed to confirm out of the mainstream judicial nominees rather than a simple majority of 51. For two centuries, our leaders have supported the tradition of the filibuster in order to promote cooperation and compromise, and because they have recognized the dangers of one party control and the importance of protecting the rights of the minority.

Proponents of the “nuclear option” to break Senate rules and eliminate the filibuster on judicial nominations continue to repeat the false argument that the Constitution requires an up-or-down vote in the full Senate on every judicial nomination.

[color=red]This argument is utterly refuted by more than 200 years of Senate history, during which literally thousands of judicial and executive branch nominees have been blocked in the Senate by filibusters, delays, and other tactics.[/color]

What is the “Nuclear Option”?
As the name suggests, the “nuclear option” is a radical tactic that would prohibit senators from using filibusters against extremist judicial nominees. Right-wing senators and leaders are supporting this destructive action because they want to guarantee the Senate confirmation of far-right ideologues to our federal courts, especially the Supreme Court.[/quote]

As you can see CC, the absence of an ability for minority parties to filibuster is not an obviously more democratic ideal as you seem to suggest. You are entitled to that opinion, but you must admit that the point is debatable. There are groups dedicated to preserving the filibuster loopholes in America. So please don’t attempt to degrade my position by ridiculing it. I am certainly not alone in an open-minded attitude toward filibustering.

The very existance of filibustering in several democracies, both presidential and parliamentary, tends to support the suggestion that filibustering is indeed an important aspect of a democracy that respects minority rights.

Perhaps the world wouldn’t have suffered Hitler’s rise to power had German parliamentarians been able to filibuster better. Would you also agree that Taiwan’s legislatue should approve a hypothetical pan-blue bill to end elections altogether, choose a new president-for-life based upon current poll support levels? Of course not. So here is your slippery slope: without filibuster, society is at risk should a tyrannical political party gain 51% of the legislature.

Also, you are doubtlessly aware that under “first past the post” (FPTP) voting systems based on single member constituencies, a party can command a large majority on the house floor while holding far less support proportionally. Certainly, if you were to support the outlawing of filibusters on the grounds of democratic philosophy, you must also attach to that position a necessity to use proportional representation system, no?
Check out this chart:

CCtang, you have to understand that in Taiwan, there are 2 parties in power, one in each Yuan. And, as the system was invented for a “one-party below heaven” kind of republic, it came down to what we have now.
The major problem of Taiwan lies in the fact that there isn’t a clear separation between the legislature and the executive. Everything ends up being a mess, because, in the first place, everyone was supposed to be following the same strategy (for what we saw in the first 80 years, it was a “fill your pockets” one).
When the legislature can approve laws that are specifically aimed at promoting the welfare of only a part of the population (read public workers, teachers and military), you can see something is wrong. Maybe you don’t, but you have to remember that most of the people concerned in those 3 areas are KMT people - blame it on whatever. This is what you have in Taiwan.
People say that the DPP is incompetent, and in my point of view they are - it is what you get after 50 years of single party ruling, any new party coming to power lacks the simple basic knowledge of governance. And most probably, some people on the DPP itself where more interested in filling their pockets than doing something good. The DPP you have today is a party trying to clean a damp (created by 80 years of collective corruption of the government), and the only thing that is given to them to clean is chopsticks…

In the United States, society is at risk should a tyrannical political party gains 60% of the senate. Welcome to the real world.