National Assembly (Republic of China)

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National Assembly

國民大會

Guómín Dàhuì (Mandarin)
Kok-bîn Tāi-hōe (Taiwanese)
Koet-mìn Thai-fi (Hakka)
ROC National Assembly Seal.png
Type
Type
History
FoundedMarch 29, 1948 (1948-03-29)
DisbandedJune 7, 2005 (2005-06-07)
Preceded byNationalist government
Succeeded by
Structure
Seats1st: 2961 (in 1948) → 668 (in 1990)
2nd: 325
3rd: 334
ad hoc: 300
Length of term
1st: 1948–1991
2nd: 1992–1995
3rd: 1996–2000
ad hoc: 2005 (1 month)
Elections
First general election
November 21, 1947 (1947-11-21)
Last general election
May 14, 2005 (2005-05-14)
Next general election
N/A (defunct) [1]
Meeting place
National Great Hall, Nanking (1948)
Zhongshan Hall, Taipei (1954–1966)
Chung-Shan Building, Taipei (1966–2005)
Constitution
Constitution of the Republic of China
Additional Articles of the Constitution

The National Assembly (Chinese: 國民大會; pinyin: Guómín Dàhuì; Wade–Giles: Kuo²-min² Ta⁴-hui⁴; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Kok-bîn Tāi-hōe; Zhuyin Fuhao: ㄍㄨㄛˊ ㄇㄧㄣˊ ㄉㄚˋ ㄏㄨㄟˋ) was the authoritative legislative body of the Republic of China, commonly known as Taiwan after 1949. It was established under the 1947 Constitution of the Republic of China as a constitutional convention and electoral college to elect the President and Vice President.

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 fully defunct 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 the structure of the United States Congress as Senate (參議院) and House of Representative (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.

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. 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 transplanted to Taipei. Apart from the KMT, the only legal parties were the Democratic Socialist Party and the Youth Party.

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

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 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. It could also change territorial boundaries. After the KMT moved to Taiwan, 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 Representatives' Assemblies. The responsibilities of the deputies of the Assembly, as well as of the Assembly as a whole, were derived from the directions of Dr. Sun Yat-sen.

The first National Assembly was to have been elected 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 undergoing "Communist rebellion". As a result, the Judicial Yuan decided that the original members of the National Assembly of Communist controlled constituencies must continue to hold office until elections could be held. National Assembly elections were still held to replace delegates of territories under ROC control.

Chung-Shan Hall, located in downtown Taipei, the meeting place of National Assembly between 1950 and 1966.
Chung-Shan Building, located in Yangmingshan region of Taipei, the meeting place of National Assembly from 1972 to its defunct in 2005.
The Secretariat building of National Assembly in 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" (萬年國會) 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. 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 Yuans, are now the functions of the Legislative Yuan.

In 1999, the Assembly passed constitutional amendments to extend terms of the Assembly and Legislative Yuan, which were 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.

Defunct[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, further 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 (DPP) 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 the March 2004 ROC 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.

One final unexpected outcome occurred which gave the National Assembly elections on 14 May 2005 more significance than had been 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 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 Coalition 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 dissolute the National Assembly until the "unification of the country" as stated in the preamble.[2]

Functions[edit]

The National Assembly held the most important constitutional powers within the national organs under the 1947 Constitution of the Republic of China. All of its powers were transferred to the Legislative Yuan and direct democracy exercised by the Taiwanese people after a series of constitutional amendments 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 Taiwanese people through a national referendum
Article 27 Elect the President and the Vice President Direct presidential elections by Taiwanese people
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 Taiwanese people 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 basic 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 limit of the members were extended until "re-election is possible in their original electoral district." In responding to the increasing democracy advocating voice in Taiwan, limited supplementary elections were held in the Free area (Taiwan) starting 1969. Members elected in these supplementary elections served together with the members who were elected in 1948. This situation remained until an Constitutional Court (Judicial Yuan) decision on June 21, 1991 that ordered to remove all the Chinese elected members by the end of year 1991.[3]

Term Length Actual served Election Seats Note
1st Initially 6 years,
then limit removed by
Temporary Provisions
1948—1991 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 till 1991.
1969 supp 15 Elected in Taiwan, terms equal to those 1948 elected members
1972 1st supp 53 Elected in Taiwan with 6-year term, but then extended to 8 years.
1980 2nd supp 76 Elected in Taiwan with 6-year term.
1986 3rd supp 84 Elected in Taiwan with 6-year term, served till end of 1992, crossed the 2nd term.
2nd Jan 1, 1992 to end of
8th President term
1992—1995 1991 election 325 Total re-election in Taiwan
3rd 4 years 1996—2000 1996 election 334
ad hoc 1 month 2005 2005 election 300 Last election

Timeline of National Assembly elections and terms

National Assembly sessions[edit]

Term Session Date Important decisions Meeting Place
1st 1st 1948 Mar 29 – May 1 Ratified the Temporary Provisions against the Communist Rebellion
1st presidential election (Chiang Kai-shek, Li Tsung-jen)
National
Great Hall
Nanking
2nd 1954 Feb 19 – Mar 25 Amended the Temporary Provisions, removed its expiration date
Impeached Vice President Li Tsung-jen
2nd presidential election (Chiang Kai-shek, Chen Cheng)
Chung-Shan
Hall
Taipei
3rd 1960 Feb 20 – Mar 25 Amended the Temporary Provisions, removed two-term limit of the President
3rd presidential election (Chiang Kai-shek, Chen Cheng)
interim 1966 Feb 1 – Feb 8 Amended the Temporary Provisions, extended its power to create or review laws
4th 1966 Feb 19 – Mar 25 Amended the Temporary Provisions to perform limited legislative elections in Taiwan
4th presidential election (Chiang Kai-shek, Yen Chia-kan)
5th 1972 Feb 20 – Mar 25 Amended the Temporary Provisions, authorized President to reorganize central government
5th presidential election (Chiang Kai-shek, Yen Chia-kan)
Chung-Shan
Building
6th 1978 Feb 19 – Mar 25 6th presidential election (Chiang Ching-kuo, Hsieh Tung-min)
7th 1984 Feb 20 – Mar 25 7th presidential election (Chiang Ching-kuo, Lee Teng-hui)
8th 1990 Feb 19 – Mar 30 8th presidential election (Lee Teng-hui, Lee Yuan-tsu)
2nd interim 1991 Apr 8 – Apr 24 Repealed the Temporary Provisions against the Communist Rebellion
Ratified the Additional Articles of the Constitution (1st amendment)
2nd interim 1992 Mar 20 – May 30 Amended the Additional Articles of the Constitution (2nd amendment)
Renounced its right to elect the President
2nd interim 1992 Dec 25 – Jan 30
3rd interim 1993 Apr 9 – Apr 30
4th interim 1994 May 2 – Sep 2 Amended the Additional Articles of the Constitution (3rd amendment)
Confirmed the President shall be directly elected by Taiwanese people since 1996 (9th)
5th 1995 Jul 11 – Aug 17
3rd 1st 1996 Jul 7 – Aug 30
2nd 1997 May 5 – Jul 23 Amended the Additional Articles of the Constitution (4th amendment)
3rd 1998 Jul 21 – Aug 10
Dec 7 – Jan 25
4th 1999 Jun 8 – Sep 3 Amended the Additional Articles of the Constitution (5th amendment)
(this amendment was then voided by the Judicial Yuan order)
5th 2000 Apr 8 – May 19 Amended the Additional Articles of the Constitution (6th amendment)
Changed itself to an ad hoc constitutional convention
ad hoc 1st 2005 May 30 – Jun 7 Amended the Additional Articles of the Constitution (7th amendment)
National Assembly abolished, and functions transferred to Legislative Yuan and national referendums.

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 Term of Office Political Party Term President
1 Hung Lan-yu 洪蘭友 22 November 1947 28 September 1958 Kuomintang 1st Chiang Kai-shek
2 Ku Cheng-kang 谷正綱 15 December 1959 16 June 1966 Kuomintang
3 Kuo Cheng 郭澄 16 June 1966 10 June 1972 Kuomintang
Chen Chien-chung 陳建中 10 June 1972 20 September 1976 Kuomintang Chiang Kai-shek
Yen Chia-kan
4 Kuo Cheng 郭澄 20 September 1976 29 September 1980 Kuomintang Yen Chia-kan
Chiang Ching-kuo
5 Ho Yi-wu 何宜武 October 1980 September 1990 Kuomintang Chiang Ching-kuo
Lee Teng-hui
6 Chu Shih-lieh 朱士烈 September 1990 January 1992 Kuomintang Lee Teng-hui
7 Chen Chin-jang 陳金讓 31 January 1992 September 1996 Kuomintang 2nd Lee Teng-hui
8 Chen Chuan 陳川 September 1996 19 May 2003 Kuomintang 3rd Lee Teng-hui
Chen Shui-bian
Chien Lin Hui-chun 錢林慧君 26 May 2005 31 May 2005 Taiwan Solidarity Union ad hoc Chen Shui-bian
9 Yeh Jiunn-rong 葉俊榮 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
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–)
Kuomintang Flag of the Republic of China.svg Hsieh Lung-sheng
謝隆盛
(1941–2006)
Kuomintang
2 13 January 1999 8 September 1999 Flag of the Republic of China.svg Su Nan-cheng
蘇南成
(1936–2014)
(resigned)
Kuomintang Flag of the Republic of China.svg Chen Chin-jang
陳金讓
(1935–)
Kuomintang
8 September 1999 19 May 2000 Flag of the Republic of China.svg Chen Chin-jang
陳金讓
(1935–)
(acting)
Kuomintang Deputy Speaker served as the acting Speaker
  • Speaker Su Nan-cheng resigned for forwarding a term-extension amendment in the National Assembly, which was judged unconstitutional by the Judicial Yuan.

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

Presidium of the 2005 ad hoc National Assembly[4]
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]

External links[edit]

References[edit]