The Central Election Commission Invites Co-Founder and Co-President of the
Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy, Bruno Kaufmann to Lecture on Modern
Monday, March 5th, 2018
Bruno Kaufmann, Chairman of the Global Forum on Modern Direct Democracy, was invited by the Central Election Commission on March 5, 2018 to lecture on "Modern Direct Democracy - The Swiss Model: What Taiwan Could and Shouldn’t Learn from it". The lecture was well received with enthusiastic exchanges of political thought between participants.
Chen In-Chin, chairman of the committee and host for the event, began by addressing that amendments to the Referendum Act enacted on January 3 this year (2018), have been seen by many as exciting new chapters for democracy in Taiwan. In contrast however, the chairman also mentioned concerns that changes to the referendum may also come with the risks of populism.
As chairman of the Initiative and Referendum Institute Europe also, Kaufmann’s practical experience in referendums understanding of direct democratic theory is extensive. The lecture stems from his belief that valuable insight into developing Taiwan’s Referendum laws can be gained in comparing the benefits and shortcomings of the Swiss direct democratic model.
Kaufmann in particular, stated that the Swiss referendum system’s clear legal framework in regards to provisions and procedures, and transparency of information are areas worth taking note. More importantly are the cumulative benefits of undergoing case after case of referendums. Citizens can gradually learn about the legislative process through practice while the government departments can develop improvements to the referendum system. Additionally, through the accumulation of experience, both citizens and governments can deepen their mutual trust and strengthen national identity. Kaufmann also pointed out however, that Switzerland's shortcomings in regards to the transparency in its financial revenues and expenditures, civic education, and strict restrictions on voter eligibility are all lessons Taiwan should learn not to repeat.
After attending the hearing on February 26 on "The National Minimum Wage Law" proposed by Mr. Huang Kuo-Chang, Kaufmann believes that Taiwan’s referendum system is one of the best in the world. However, now more than ever, Kaufmann states that legal or constitutional reform can only be accomplished through time, practice, and mistakes. And should the need arise; Taiwan should not hesitate to seek support and assistance.