[Election-Methods] RE : Fwd: Re: RE : Taiwan legislative elections and referendum

Kevin Venzke stepjak at yahoo.fr
Tue Jan 15 11:02:07 PST 2008


--- Chris Benham <cbenhamau at yahoo.com.au> a écrit :
> >>I am very angry when I think about how referendums are conducted in 
> >>Taiwan. 
> >>
> >>a- stupid 50% rule.
> >>-------------------
> >>
> >>For the result of a referendum to be valid, at least 50% of the 
> >>*registered voters* must participate. I.e. if at least 50% of the 
> >>registered couch potatoes stay at home, the referendum will fail even 
> >>if the vote expressed show 90% +  support to the referendum item.
> >>
> >>Thus, the surest way to kill a referendum is to stay at home.
> >>Also, all those registered voters who genuinely don't care about the 
> >>referendum one way of the other (e.g. the disinterested couch potato 
> >>group of people), are all automaticall counted in the NO camp, 
> >>whatever the question asked. !!!
> >>
> >>How much more undemocratic can that be??
> >>
> >
> >The rule that a majority of voters must vote is unfortunate because it
> >means that by showing up to vote "No" you can cause the proposal to
> >succeed.
> >
> You could  avoid that problem by having a rule that says for a 
> referendum to pass the number of
> cast ballots in favour of it must exceed the number of  cast ballots 
> against it and also comprise at
> least (say) 25%  of  the "registered voters".  (The 25% figure is 
> consistent with the intention of the
> actual "50% must vote" rule, because if it passes by a narrow margin 
> then about 50% must have
> voted.)

Yes, that would do it.

> I think a rule like this is more democratic than having super-majority 
> requirements that exist in a lot
> of places.

If the result of the referendum (pass or fail) is definitely binding, then
yes, a super-majority requirement is less democratic.

> >But in my opinion, to avoid government abuse of referendum, they should
> not
> >pass or fail only on the opinions of the voters that the government was
> >able to convince to participate.
> >  
> >
> Kevin, can you explain (and maybe give an example) of what you mean by  
> "government abuse of referendum"
> and how your proposal avoids it?
> >If I choose to not vote in a referendum for some issue, I want this to
> be
> >interpreted as "have the government make this decision" not "let the
> other
> >voters make this decision."
> >
> Since the government derives its authority and legitimacy from being the 
> voters' representatives, I find
> this personal view of  yours to be a bit perverse and undemocratic. 
> Presumably you think this should
> be the general view. If so, why?

Because I have no confidence that the "other voters" willing to express an
opinion are the ones that I think the government should listen to.

I don't want the government asking the people to make any decision that the
government should be in a better position to be able to answer.

Often the local government asks me to say whether my taxes should be raised
in order to better fund schools. What do I know about what funds are needed
by the schools? Don't I elect a government to deal with that? If the
schools really need the funds then I guess I shouldn't be involved in this

It seems quite likely that there are situations where the government
expects that the number of voters interested in voting to approve a
proposal would dwarf the number interested in showing up to vote against
it. (Or the opposite.) In that case holding the referendum may be a
calculated political move to dodge responsibility or give the decision more
legitimacy. To prevent gaming the procedure I would prefer that the measure
can't be passed (or definitively defeated) only by a small number of voters
who strongly support (or oppose) it.

Kevin Venzke

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