Both U.N. Bid Referendums Vetoed

Two referendums took place yesterday alongside the presidential election.

While the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) had proposed a referendum on joining the UN using the name “Taiwan,” the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) initiated its own, asking the nation whether it should seek to “rejoin” the international body using the name “Republic of China” or any other “practical” title that would uphold the country’s dignity.

In Taiwan, the Referendum Law states that two thresholds needed to be attained for a referendum to be valid.

First, more than 50 percent of eligible voters need to cast a referendum ballot, and second, of the valid votes, 50 percent of the voters need to respond in the affirmative to the referendum question.

By law a failed referendum question cannot be asked again for a period of three years, so this subject will be out from the front pages for a while…

The controversial referendums on Taiwan’s quest for U.N. membership failed to pass the legal threshold Saturday, marking yet another blow to the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration.

A total of 6,201,677 voters, or 35.82 percent of the electorate, took part in the DPP-initiated referendum asking voters whether Taiwan should join the United Nations under the name “Taiwan.”

The figure fell far short of the minimum 50 percent needed for the referendum to be counted valid.

Among those who cast their ballots, 5,529,230 voted affirmatively while 352,359 cast “no” votes. The remaining 320,088 ballots cast were invalid.

As for the main opposition KMT-initiated referendum on rejoining the United Nations under Taiwan’s official title “Republic of China, ” “Taiwan, ” or any other suitable name, the participation rate was slightly lower at 35.74 percent.

Among the voters, 4,962,309 cast affirmative ballots, compared to 724,060 who voted “no.” An additional 500,749 ballots were invalid.

The two referendums were doomed from the beginning in part because of the extremely high legal threshold they had to meet. The initiatives were also seen as political ploys that had little relevance for Taiwan’s U.N. membership bid.

Taiwan, as the Republic of China, lost its U.N. seat to the People’s Republic of China in 1971, and has made unsuccessful bids annually to rejoin the body since 1993.

As expected, neither of the two UN referendums passed. This must not be interpreted as meaning that Taiwanese do not want UN membership.

Rather, the referendums were sacrificed because they had been overly politicized and manipulated by both the DPP and the KMT.

The fact that six consecutive referendums have failed to pass in the past four years probably means that similar referendums are unlikely to be held again in the foreseeable future.

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