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  • Interpretation
  • No.381
  • Date
  • 1995/06/09
  • Issue
    • Shall the quorum requirement and the amount of affirmative votes to be cast in the First Reading Meeting held for the amendment of the Constitution be in accordance with Article 174, Subparagraph 1, of the Constitution?
  • Holding
    •        The quorum and the amount of votes required to amend the Constitution, as set forth in Article 174, Subparagraph 1, of the Constitution requiring two-thirds of the delegates to the National Assembly to be present and a three-fourths affirmative vote to be cast, are those of requirements of a meeting of the National Assembly making a resolution to amend the Constitution.  The Constitution as well as statutes are silent with respect to what Reading Meetings, their quorums and amounts of vote are needed in order to make a resolution of a constitutional amendment. The First Reading Meeting held for the amendment of the Constitution is not by itself the adoption of the constitutional amendment.  Its quorum requirement falls into the domain of self-governance matters of the National Assembly.  The National Assembly has the discretion and this will not give rise to constitutional issues when it adopts the one-third quorum as promulgated by Article 8 of the Organic Act of National Assembly, the two-thirds quorum as mandated by Article 174, Subparagraph 1, of the Constitution, or a quorum according to the rules of general meetings.  Of course, it is needless to say that every self-governance decision shall be made in accordance with the principles of the constitutional structure of free democracy.
  • Reasoning
    •        The National Assembly, consisting of delegates elected directly by people in a free territory and indirectly by political parties pro rata, exercises political power for nationals per procuration according to the mandate of the Constitution.  National representative bodies may prescribe procedural rules on how their powers are exercised, provided such rules are not in contravention to the law and the Constitution.  This well-recognized political principle is often referred to as parliamentary self-governance or parliamentary autonomy. Besides the written procedural rules of the parliament, there are various unwritten rules whose applications may vary from one resolution to another.  This principle has been delineated by us in Judicial Yuan Interpretation No. 342.  It is also in accordance with Article 1, Paragraph 9, of the Amendments to the Constitution, which states: “The National Assembly has the authority to prescribe procedures governing how its powers are exercised regardless of the mandate of Article 34 of the Constitution.”  
      
    •        The two-thirds quorum and the three-fourths affirmative vote requirements set forth in Article 174, Subparagraph 1, of the Constitution are mandates for the adoption of the constitutional amendment resolution.  The one-third quorum and a one-half affirmative vote requirement set forth in Article 8 of the Organic Act of National Assembly govern resolutions made for matters other than the constitutional amendment, and hence are not in contravention to Article 174, Subparagraph 1, of the Constitution.  With respect to how Reading Meetings proceed and what quorums and amounts of affirmative vote of respective Reading Meetings are, the National Assembly has he authority to decide following the prtinciples of parliamentary autonomy and within the scope of the Constitution. Of course, it is needless to say that every self-governance decision shall be made in accordance with the principles of the constitutional structure of free democracy.  Articles 42, 43, 44, Subparagraph 2, and Article 46, Subparagraph 12, of the Rules of the National Assembly Proceedings as amended on April 7, 1992, on the basis of Article 174, Subparagraph 1, of the Constitution, require a two-thirds quorum and three-fourths affirmative vote for the adoption of resolutions of the amendment to the Constitution and for the ratification of the amendment proposal submitted by the Legislative Yuan in Second Reading and Third Reading Meetings.  The same rules are silent with regard to the quorum in the First Reading Meeting, except for Article 43 which requires a review of the proposal after general discussions in the First Reading Meeting.   According to the petition and accompanying materials submitted by the National Assembly, the one-third quorum and two-thirds quorum were both once adopted in different First Reading Meetings by the first and second sessions of the National Assembly when amending the provisions of the Temporary Provisions Effective during the Period of National Mobilization for Suppression of the Communist Rebellion.  Therefore, the First Reading proceeding for the constitutional amendment cannot be equated to the adoption of the constitutional amendment resolution, and its quorum requirement falls into the domain of parliamentary autonomy and will not give rise to constitutional issues regardless what quorum is adopted, the one-third quorum as promulgated by Article 8 of the Organic Act of National Assembly, or the two-thirds quorum as mandated by Article 174, Subparagraph 1, of the Constitution, or a quorum according to rules of general meetings.
      
    • *Translated by Professor Chun-Jen Chen.
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