National Assembly of the Republic of China

From Academic Kids

Template:Politics of Taiwan The National Assembly (Chinese: 國民大會, pinyin: Gomn Dhi) was the Constitutional Convention (and formerly an electoral college) of the Republic of China on Taiwan. It disbanded itself in 2005 after approving a set of constitutional amendments which removed its last remaining powers.

Calls for a National Assembly were part of the platform of the revolutionaries who overthrew the Qing dynasty. In 1947, the Kuomintang promulgated a constitution and the first National Assembly met in the then-Chinese capital of Nanjing. Shortly afterwards in 1949, the Mainland fell to the Communists in the Chinese Civil War, and the National Assembly (along with the entire ROC government) was transplanted to Taiwan.

The first National Assembly was to have been elected for a period of only seven years. However, according to the Kuomintang leadership, the fall of the Mainland made it impossible to hold new elections, as all Mainland provinces were undergoing "Communist rebellion". As a result, the Judicial Yuan decided that the original members of the National Assembly would continue to hold office until the Communists could be defeated on the Mainland and legitimate ROC rulership of all of China restored.

As a result of this decision, the same National Assembly, elected in 1947, remained until 1991, when as part of a constitutional ruling a Second National Assembly was elected.

Originally, the National Assembly elected the President and Vice President of the Republic of China. A subsequent constitutional amendment abolished this role and established direct popular elections for the two offices. Most of its other former functions, such as hearing the president's State of the Nation Address and approving the president's nominations of the grand justices and the heads of the Examination and Control Yuan, have been transferred to the Legislative Yuan.

After the 1991 passage of constitutional reforms, there was strong objection to the new form of the Assembly, which had essentially become a permanent Constitutional Convention. Because of this, in 1997 the National Assembly was suspended. Its 300-members will be selected ad hoc on the basis of proportional representation by a special election within six months of proposal by the Legislative Yuan to amend the Constitution, impeach the president or vice president, or change national borders.

On August 23, 2004, the Legislative Yuan proposed a series of amendments that included abolishing the National Assembly. After the National Assembly approves these amendments (which was widely considered to be a formality), future constitutional amendments will be proposed by a 3/4 vote of the Legislative Yuan followed by ratification by ROC voters in a referendum after a mandatory 180-day promulgation period.

A DPP proposal of citizen right of initiative for draft constitutional amendments was withdrawn after it became clear that such a proposal would not pass the Legislative Yuan. Opponents of such constitutional reforms argue that by eliminating the 3/4 legislative vote requirement, a relatively small number of voters could force a referendum on Taiwan independence which would trigger a crisis with the People's Republic of China. By contrast, keeping the 3/4 legislative vote requirement would mean that any constitutional amendment would require a consensus among both the pan-green coalition and pan-blue coalition to be considered.

Although National Assembly ratification of the constitutional amendments was originally considered to be a formality, a number of unexpected complications occurred in 2005. The first was the poor showing of the People's First Party in the 2004 Legislative Yuan election. The PFP was widely expected to merge with the KMT, but PFP Chairman James Soong became disenchanted by the idea. The second was the reluctance of the Taiwan Solidarity Union to pass the amendments. These amendments were seen by some Taiwan independence supporters as a prelude to a later declaration of independence, but the results of the 2004 election made this very unlikely. Faced with this outcome, the TSU became very reluctant to support a reform that would make elections by small parties, such as itself harder.

One final unexpected outcome occurred which gave the National Assembly elections on May 14, 2005 more significance that was originally intended. The National Assembly election was lined up immediately after trips to mainland China by KMT Chairman Lien Chan and PFP Chairman James Soong. This had the effect of turning the May 14 elections into an opinion poll on relations with mainland China which was undesired by the Democratic Progressive Party, though the DPP subsequently gained a majority in the elections.

On June 7, 2005 the 300 delegates voted (by a majority of 249 to 48) the constitutional amendments into effect, and so permanently abolished the National Assembly.

See also: Politics of Taiwan

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