National Assembly (Republic of China)

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National Assembly

國民大會

Guómín Dàhuì (Mandarin Pinyin)
Kuo²-min² Ta⁴-hui⁴ (Wade-Giles)
Kok-bîn Tāi-hōe (Taiwanese)
Koet-mìn Thai-fi (Hakka)
Seal of the National Assembly,Republic of China (ROC).svg
Type
Type
History
Founded29 March 1948; 74 years ago (1948-03-29)
DisbandedIn mainland China:
1 October 1949; 73 years ago (1949-10-01) (Proclamation of the PRC, de facto)
In Taiwan:
7 June 2005; 17 years ago (2005-06-07) (Constitution amended, de facto)
Preceded byNational Assembly (Beiyang government)
Succeeded byIn mainland China:
Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and later National People's Congress
In Taiwan:
Direct presidential elections, constitutional referendums, Legislative Yuan, and Constitutional Court of Judicial Yuan
Seats
  • 3,045 (1947)
  • 300 (2005)
Elections
First general election
21 November 1947; 75 years ago (1947-11-21)
Last general election
14 May 2005; 17 years ago (2005-05-14)
Meeting place
National Great Hall, Nanking (1948)
Zhongshan Hall, Taipei (1954–1966)
Chung-Shan Building, Taipei (1972–2005)
Constitution
Additional Articles and the original
Constitution of the Republic of China
National Assembly
Traditional Chinese國民大會
Simplified Chinese国民大会
Literal meaningAssembly of the Nationals

The National Assembly was the authoritative legislative body of the Republic of China, commonly referred to as Taiwan after 1949, from 1947 to 2005. Along with the Control Yuan (upper house) and the Legislative Yuan (lower house), the National Assembly formed the tricameral parliament of China. If still functional, at 3,045 members, the National Assembly would have been the largest parliamentary chamber in the world.

Similar to other electoral colleges, the National Assembly had elected the President and Vice President under the 1947 Constitution of the Republic of China with the role of the constituent assembly that aimed to amend the country's constitution.

The first National Assembly was elected in November 1947 and met in Nanking in March 1948. However, in the next year, the Kuomintang-led government of the Republic of China lost mainland China in the Chinese Civil War and retreated to Taiwan. The National Assembly resumed its meeting in Taipei in 1954. In the 1990s, its parliamentary powers were gradually transferred to the Legislative Yuan and direct democracy exercised by the Taiwanese people[clarification needed] before constitutional amendments made it a dormant body in 2000 and de facto dissolved in 2005.

History[edit]

Early Republican period[edit]

Calls for a National Assembly were part of the platform of the revolutionaries who ultimately overthrew the Qing dynasty. In response, the Qing dynasty formed the first assembly in 1910, but it was virtually powerless and intended only as an advisory body. In the early Republican Era, the bicameral National Assembly was established by the Beiyang government. The design referred to the structure of the United States Congress as Senate (參議院) and House of Representatives (眾議院). However, the Warlord Era with the interference of military power toward the constitution suppressed the authority and the reputation of the National Assembly.

The Chinese social and political science review quoted the institution's English name as National People's Congress during the drafting of constitution.[1]

1947 Constitution[edit]

In 1946, the Constituent Assembly [zh] promulgated a new constitution and the first National Assembly met in 1948 in Nanjing, the Chinese capital. Apart from the KMT, the only legal parties were the Democratic Socialist Party and the Youth Party.

Under the constitution, the main duty of the National Assembly was to elect the President and Vice President for terms of six years. It also had the right to recall or impeach the President and Vice President if they failed to fulfill their political responsibilities. According to "National Assembly Duties Act," the National Assembly could amend the constitution with a two-thirds majority, with at least three-quarters membership present, as well as to ratify constitutional amendedments proposed by deputies of the Legislative Yuan. It could also change territorial boundaries. The responsibilities of the deputies of the Assembly, as well as of the Assembly as a whole, were derived from the directions of Sun Yat-sen. At that time the NA served as a counterpart to the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union, with a Presidum of the National Assembly governing over its activities.

The National Assembly in Nanjing in 1946
National Assembly Building in Nanking, the meeting place of the first session of the first National Assembly in 1948
Paifang outside the National Assembly Building in Nanking during the 1948 National Assembly session.

Shortly afterwards in 1949, mainland China fell to the communists in the Chinese Civil War, and the National Assembly (along with the entire ROC government) was relocated to Taipei. The Assembly's right to legislate was put into moratorium until at least half of all counties in the nation were again able to elect representatives via their County Assemblies.

The first National Assembly was to serve for a period of only six years. However, according to the Kuomintang (KMT) leadership, the fall of the Mainland made it impossible to hold new elections there, as all Mainland provinces were under communist rebellion. As a result, the Judicial Yuan decided that the original members of the National Assembly representing communist-controlled constituencies must continue to hold office until new elections could be held. National Assembly elections were still held in territories under ROC control.

In accordance with the 76th interpretation of the 1947 Constitution by the Judicial Yuan in 1957, the NA formed part of a three-chamber tricameral parliament together with the Legislative and Control Yuans[2] and was the seniormost chamber of parliament, with the latter two performing regular legislative work in the absence of the Assembly. During the years when it elected or recalled the president and vice president, it acted as an electoral college with all its county representatives serving as electors.

Chung-Shan Hall, located in downtown Taipei, meeting place of the National Assembly between 1950 and 1966.
Chung-Shan Building, located in the Yangmingshan region of Taipei, meeting place of the National Assembly from 1972 to its dissolution in 2005.
Secretariat building of the National Assembly, downtown Taipei.

Constitutional reforms in the 1990s[edit]

The Secretariat of National Assembly in Taipei.

As a result of this decision, the same National Assembly, elected in 1947, remained for 44 years until 1991, when as part of a constitutional ruling a Second National Assembly was elected. There was strong objection to the Assembly, which was derisively called the "ten-thousand-year congress [zh]" by critics.

Shortly after passing constitutional reforms in 1991, the National Assembly held direct elections in December. Following a 1994 constitutional amendment, the Assembly essentially became a permanent constituent assembly, as the Assembly's other major role, to elect the President and Vice President of the Republic of China, was abolished. Direct elections for the president, vice president, and Assembly were held simultaneously in March 1996. However, these reforms granted it new 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 Yuans. Following the assembly's abolition, these functions are now in the hands of the Legislative Yuan.

In 1999, the Assembly passed constitutional amendments which would link its election and term with the Legislative Yuan. Part of these amendments' effect was to extend the term of both bodies, which was strongly criticized by the public. The People First Party was founded shortly after the 2000 presidential election. The two larger parties, the Kuomintang and Democratic Progressive Party, wished to bar the People First Party (PFP) from the National Assembly. As a result, the 2000 National Assembly elections were canceled, and delegates were to be selected ad hoc on the basis of proportional representation via special election within six months of the Legislative Yuan proposing constitutional amendments, calling for the impeachment of the president or vice president, or declaring a vote on changes to national borders. However, no such situation arose from 2000 to 2004, and the National Assembly never met during this period.

Dissolution[edit]

On 23 August 2004, the Legislative Yuan proposed a series of amendments that included dissolution of the National Assembly. The purpose of this proposal is to transfer power to ratify constitutional amendments and territorial amendments from the National Assembly to the people. Under the amendments, subsequent proposed amendments are to be approved by three-fourths of the present members in the Legislative Yuan, with at least three-fourths of all members present. It would then be promulgated for a period of 180 days and then submitted to a referendum, in which a simple majority of all eligible voters shall be sufficient to ratify the amendments. A Democratic Progressive Party proposal authorizing citizens' initiative rights to propose constitutional amendments was withdrawn after it became clear that such a proposal would not pass the Legislative Yuan. Opponents of such constitutional reforms argued 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. The requirement that a majority of all voters approve the amendment allows for a party to block an amendment by boycotting the vote as was done with the referendums voted on alongside the March 2004 presidential elections.

Under the Constitution at the time, the National Assembly must then be elected to consider these amendments. Such consideration and eventual ratification of the constitutional amendments was originally considered to be a formality, but a number of unexpected complications occurred in 2005. The first was the poor showing of the People First Party (PFP) 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.

Another unexpected event occurred which gave the National Assembly elections on 14 May 2005 more significance than had been intended: the 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 plurality in the elections.

2005 Taiwanese National Assembly election result
2005 National Assembly (Republic of China).svg
Government 249 Opposition 51
Democratic Progressive Party 127 Taiwan Solidarity Union 21
Kuomintang 117 People First Party 18
Chinese People's Party 3 Democratic Action Alliance [zh] 5
Peasant Party 1 New Party 3
Civil Party 1 Non-Partisan Solidarity Union 2
Taiwan Independence Party 1
Independent 1
Endorse the constitutional amendment Oppose the constitutional amendment

On 7 June 2005, the 300 delegates voted (by a majority of 249 to 48) the constitutional amendments into effect, and so dissolved the National Assembly until the "unification of the country" as stated in the preamble.[3]

Functions[edit]

The National Assembly held the most important constitutional powers within the national organs under the 1947 constitution. All of its powers were transferred to the Legislative Yuan and direct democracy exercised by the citizens of the free area after a series of constitutional amendments as Additional Articles of the Constitution in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Functions of the National Assembly under 1947 Constitution Current implementation
Article 4 Ratify alteration of the national territory Proposed by Legislative Yuan and
ratified by the citizens of the free area through a national referendum
Article 27 Elect the President and the Vice President Direct presidential elections by the citizens of the free area
Recall the President and the Vice President Proposed by Legislative Yuan and
passed by Taiwanese people through a recall election
Article 27 and
Article 174
Amend the Constitution Proposed by Legislative Yuan and
ratified by the citizens of the free area through a national referendum
Ratify proposed Constitutional amendments from Legislative Yuan
Article 30 and
Article 100
Vote on impeachment of the President or the Vice President
received from Control Yuan
Proposed by Legislative Yuan and
judged by the Justices of the Judicial Yuan in Constitutional Court

The series of constitutional amendments coined the Additional Articles of the Constitution as the current fundamental law of Taiwan. During the evolution of the Additional Articles, the National Assembly also held the power to confirm some important governmental officers to maintain the separation of powers during the government reorganization.

Office Original Constitution (1947–1992) Additional Articles (1992–2000) Current implementation
Judicial Yuan Leaders and members are nominated by the President
and confirmed by the Control Yuan (Article 79)
Leaders and members are
nominated by the President
and confirmed by the
National Assembly
Leaders and members are
nominated by the President
and confirmed by the
Legislative Yuan
Examination Yuan Leaders and members are nominated by the President
and confirmed by the Control Yuan (Article 84)
Control Yuan Members are elected by provincial legislators (Article 91)
Leaders are elected by and from the members (Article 92)

Elections and terms[edit]

The Kuomintang-led government of the Republic of China retreated to Taiwan in 1949, two years after the first election was held in China. As Kuomintang insists to claim the sovereignty over the whole China, the term of the members were extended until "re-election is possible in their original electoral district." In response to the increasing democracy movement in Taiwan, limited supplementary elections were held in Taiwan starting from 1969 and parts of Fujian from 1972. Members elected in these supplementary elections served together with the members who were elected in 1948. This situation remained until a Constitutional Court (Judicial Yuan) ruling on June 21, 1991 that ordered the retirement of all members with extended terms by the end of year 1991.[4]

Term Length Actual served Election Seats Note
1st Initially 6 years,
then limit removed by
Temporary Provisions
Mar 27, 1948—Dec 31, 1991
(See Note column for
detailed terms)
1947 election 2961 The only election held in mainland China. 19 delegates were elected in Taiwan.
1578 delegates retreated to Taiwan with the government, 565 delegates served until the end of 1991.
1969 supp 15 Elected in the Free Area, terms equal to the 1947-elected members
1972 1st supp 53 Elected in the Free Area with 6-year term; then extended to 8 years.
1980 2nd supp 76 Elected in the Free Area with 6-year term.
1986 3rd supp 84 Elected in the Free Area with 6-year term, served until the end of 1992, overlapping with the 2nd assembly.
2nd Jan 1, 1992 to end of
8th President term
Jan 1, 1992—May 19, 1996 1991 election 325 Total re-election in the Free Area
3rd 4 years May 20, 1996—May 19, 2000 1996 election 334
ad hoc 1 month May 20, 2005—Jun 7, 2005 2005 election 300 Last election

Timeline of National Assembly elections and terms

National Assembly sessions[edit]

Term Session Date Important decisions Delegates Meeting Place
1st 1st Mar 29, 1948—May 1, 1948 1947 National
Great Hall
Nanking
2nd Feb 19, 1954—Mar 25, 1954 Chung-Shan
Hall
Taipei
3rd Feb 20, 1960—Mar 25, 1960
interim Feb 1, 1966—Feb 8, 1966
4th Feb 19, 1966—Mar 25, 1966
5th Feb 20, 1972—Mar 25, 1972 1947, 1969 Chung-Shan
Building
6th Feb 19, 1978—Mar 25, 1978 1947, 1969, 1972
7th Feb 20, 1984—Mar 25, 1984 1947, 1969, 1980
8th Feb 19, 1990—Mar 30, 1990 1947, 1969, 1986
2nd interim Apr 8, 1991—Apr 24, 1991
2nd interim Mar 20, 1992—May 30, 1992 1986, 1991
2nd interim Dec 25, 1992—Jan 30, 1993
3rd interim Apr 9, 1993—Apr 30, 1993 1991
4th interim May 2, 1994—Sep 2, 1994
5th Jul 11, 1995—Aug 17, 1995
3rd 1st Jul 7, 1996—Aug 30, 1996 1996
2nd May 5, 1997—Jul 23, 1997
3rd Jul 21, 1998—Aug 10, 1998
Dec 7, 1998—Jan 25, 1999
4th Jun 8, 1999—Sep 3, 1999
5th Apr 8, 2000—May 19, 2000
ad hoc 1st May 30, 2005—Jun 7, 2005 2005

Leaders of the National Assembly[edit]

Secretary-general[edit]

When the Assembly is not in session, the secretary-general (Chinese: 秘書長; pinyin: Mìshūzhǎng; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Pì-su-tiúⁿ) is the de facto highest-ranking official, in charge of the overall affairs of the Assembly and supervising its staff. Note that the secretary-general is entitled acting secretary-general when the National Assembly is not in session.

No. Name Constituency Term of Office Political Party Term President
1 Hung Lan-yu 洪蘭友 Not a member 22 November 1947 28 September 1958 Kuomintang 1st Chiang Kai-shek
2 Ku Cheng-kang 谷正綱 Anshun, Guizhou 15 December 1959 16 June 1966 Kuomintang
3 Kuo Cheng 郭澄 Yangqu, Shanxi 16 June 1966 10 June 1972 Kuomintang
Chen Chien-chung 陳建中 Fuping, Shaanxi 10 June 1972 20 September 1976 Kuomintang Chiang Kai-shek
Yen Chia-kan
4 Kuo Cheng 郭澄 Yangqu, Shanxi 20 September 1976 29 September 1980 Kuomintang Yen Chia-kan
Chiang Ching-kuo
5 Ho Yi-wu 何宜武 Shouning, Fujian October 1980 September 1990 Kuomintang Chiang Ching-kuo
Lee Teng-hui
6 Chu Shih-lieh 朱士烈 Zhushan, Hubei September 1990 January 1992 Kuomintang Lee Teng-hui
7 Chen Chin-jang 陳金讓 Party list 31 January 1992 September 1996 Kuomintang 2nd Lee Teng-hui
8 Chen Chuan 陳川 Party list September 1996 19 May 2003 Kuomintang 3rd Lee Teng-hui
Chen Shui-bian
Chien Lin Hui-chun 錢林慧君 Party list 26 May 2005 31 May 2005 Taiwan Solidarity Union ad hoc Chen Shui-bian
9 Yeh Jiunn-rong 葉俊榮 Party list 31 May 2005 7 June 2005 Democratic Progressive Party

Presidium and Speaker[edit]

  • The 1st and 2nd National Assemblies elected a presidium (Chinese: 主席團; pinyin: Zhǔxítuán; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Chú-se̍k-thoân) as the leader of the body.
  • The 3rd National Assembly elected a speaker (Chinese: 議長; pinyin: Yìzhǎng; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Gī-tiúⁿ) and a deputy speaker (Chinese: 副議長; pinyin: Fùyìzhǎng; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Hù-gī-tiúⁿ) to lead the assembly.
  • The 2005 ad hoc National Assembly reverted to electing a presidium (Chinese: 主席團; pinyin: Zhǔxítuán; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Chú-se̍k-thoân) as the leader of the body.
Speakers and Deputy Speakers of the 3rd National Assembly
No. Session Speaker Deputy Speaker President
Starts on Ends on Portrait Name
(Birth–Death)
Political Party Portrait Name
(Birth–Death)
Political Party
1 8 July 1996 13 January 1999 T2009PressConference 20080225 Fredrick Chien.jpg Fredrick Chien
錢復
(1935–)
MNA for Nationwide KMT at-large №1
Kuomintang Flag of the Republic of China.svg Hsieh Lung-sheng
謝隆盛
(1941–2006)
MNA for Nationwide KMT at-large №3
Kuomintang 總統李登輝先生玉照 (國民大會實錄).jpg
Lee Teng-hui
(KMT)
2 13 January 1999 8 September 1999 議長蘇南成先生玉照 (國民大會實錄).jpg Su Nan-cheng
蘇南成[note 1]
(1936–2014)
MNA for Nationwide KMT at-large №8
Kuomintang Flag of the Republic of China.svg Chen Chin-jang
陳金讓
(1935–)
MNA for Nationwide KMT at-large №2
Kuomintang
8 September 1999 19 May 2000 Deputy Speaker served as the acting Speaker

The 2005 ad hoc National Assembly elected a presidium with 11 members as follows:

Presidium of the 2005 ad hoc National Assembly[5]
Order Name Political Party Order Name Political Party
1 Yeh Chu-lan 葉菊蘭 Democratic Progressive Party 7 Lee Yuan-chen 李元貞 Democratic Progressive Party
2 Chen Chin-jang 陳金讓 Kuomintang 8 Nancy Chao 趙麗雲 Kuomintang
3 Annie Lee 李安妮 Taiwan Solidarity Union 9 Hsu Chih-hsiung 許志雄 Democratic Progressive Party
4 Yeh Yao-peng 葉耀鵬 People First 10 Ger Yeong-kuang 葛永光 Kuomintang
5 Chou Ching-yu 周清玉 Democratic Progressive Party 11 Wellington Koo 顧立雄 Democratic Progressive Party
6 Tsai Cheng-wen 蔡政文 Kuomintang

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Resigned for forwarding a term-extension amendment, which was ruled unconstitutional by the Judicial Yuan.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Chen, C.M. Draft Of The Constitution Of The Republic Of China (PDF). The Chinese social and political science review [1916-1941]. pp. 539–571. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2022-10-24. Retrieved 2022-10-24.
  2. ^ 司法院釋字第76號解釋, Judicial Yuan interpretation number 76 (English translation)
  3. ^ BBC News "Taiwan assembly passes changes"
  4. ^ 中央選舉委員會歷次選舉摘要-國民大會代表選舉
  5. ^ Presidium of the National Assembly

External links[edit]