Taipei, Nov. 24 (CNA) Taiwanese voters cast ballots in 10 national referendums on Saturday, with seven of the initiatives receiving the backing of enough voters for them to be considered valid, including one against gay marriage.
Under Taiwan’s Referendum Act, the result of a referendum is only valid if it is approved by at least one quarter of eligible voters. The number of voters backing a referendum must also exceed the number of voters opposing it for it to pass.
As of midnight Saturday, seven of the referendums has received more than the 4.94 million votes required to pass, according to data on the Central Election Commission website.
The 10 referendums were held alongside the local government elections on Saturday on issues ranging from the legal treatment of same-sex couples, to food imports from radioactive contaminated areas in Japan, air pollution, energy, and Taiwan’s designation in big sporting events like the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Those that passed included the ones on air pollution, energy policy, and the ban on food imports from Japanese areas affected by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster in 2011.
Three referendums initiated by anti-LGBT groups also passed, while two put forward by gay marriage advocates failed.
The closely watched referendum of the name Taiwan should use in international sporting competition appeared to have also failed, with more people opposing it than supporting it.
Unlike the vote for elected officials, in which voters had to be at least 20 years of age, Saturday’s referendums were open to citizens aged 18 or over, under an amended Referendum Act that was passed in 2017.
That put the number of eligible voters for the referendums at about 19.76 million, including 582,045 first-time voters, according to Central Election Commission data.
CEC spokesperson Chen Chiao-chien (陳朝建) told CNA on Oct. 15 that if a referendum passes, its result will be legally binding as stated in Article 30 of the Referendum Act, rather than being of an advisory nature.
That can take one of three forms. Voters can cast ballots on whether to overturn a law, on principles for a new law, or on initiating or changing a policy.
According to the law, if people vote to repeal a law, the law will lose its efficacy on the third day after the result is officially declared by the CEC.
Only one of the 10 referendums this year fell into that category. It asked voters if they agreed with abolishing the first paragraph of Article 95 of the Electricity Act, which stipulates that “all nuclear-energy-based power-generating facilities shall cease to operate by 2025.”
That referendum question also passed.
The record high number of referendums stems from an amendment to the Referendum Act in December 2017 that significantly lowered the thresholds for bringing a referendum question to a vote.