- The ROC president and vice president are directly elected every four years.
- In Taiwan’s legislative elections, each voter casts one ballot for their district and another for at-large seats.
- Government Agencies
The ROC Constitution, promulgated Jan. 1, 1947, did not
begin to serve its intended purpose as the foundation for
democratic governance and rule of law until after 1987, when
martial law was lifted in Taiwan. Since then, it has undergone
seven rounds of revision in 1991, 1992, 1994, 1997, 1999,
2000 and 2005 to make it more relevant to the country’s
One of the important consequences of these amendments is
that since 1991, the government has acknowledged that its
jurisdiction extends only to the areas it controls. The president
and legislators, therefore, are elected by and accountable to the
people of those areas only.
Lights illuminate the historic Presidential Office Building in Taipei City. (Tsai Chi-lin)
In accordance with constitutional amendments promulgated in
June 2005, the number of seats in the Legislative Yuan was halved
from 225 to 113 and legislators’ terms were increased from
three to four years. Under the new legislative election system,
each electoral district elects just one seat. Each voter casts two
ballots—one for the district and the other for at-large seats. The
power to ratify constitutional amendments is now exercised by
citizens through referendums.
Levels of Government
The central government comprises the presidency and five
major branches, or yuans. The local governments at present
include those of six special municipalities, 13 counties and three
autonomous municipalities with the same hierarchical status
as counties. Beginning in 2014, all heads and representatives of
local governments are popularly elected simultaneously in cities
and counties across Taiwan every four years. In addition, there
are 198 county-administered townships and cities, as well as
170 districts—including six indigenous mountain districts—in
autonomous and special municipalities.
Special municipalities are top-level administrative entities that
fall under the direct jurisdiction of the central government. They
play an important role in leading regional development. This
status gives access to greater funding and the opportunity to set
up additional agencies and employ more civil servants. The six
special municipalities are, in order of population, New Taipei,
Taichung, Kaohsiung, Taipei, Taoyuan and Tainan cities.
Presidency and Premiership
The president and vice president are directly elected, serve
terms of four years and may be re-elected for one additional
term. The president is head of state and commander in chief
of the armed forces, represents the nation in foreign relations,
and is empowered to appoint heads of four branches of the
government, including the premier, who leads the Executive
Yuan, or Cabinet, and must report regularly to the Legislative
Yuan, or Legislature. The heads of ministries, commissions
and agencies under the Executive Yuan are appointed by the
premier and form the Executive Yuan Council. To improve
administrative effectiveness, the Executive Yuan is undergoing
restructuring to reduce the number of Cabinet-level
organizations from 37 to 29.
After the reorganization, which commenced at the start
of 2012, the Executive Yuan will consist of 14 ministries,
eight councils, three independent agencies and four other
organizations. Under the ROC Constitution, neither the
president’s appointment of the premier nor the premier’s
appointment of ministers is subject to legislative confirmation.
Presidential appointment of the members of the Control
Yuan and the Examination Yuan, as well as justices of
the Judicial Yuan, must be confirmed by the Legislature.
Lawmakers elect the president of the Legislature, or speaker,
from among their ranks.
Given the key role of the presidency in the overall functioning of
the government, the term “ruling party” denotes which political
party occupies the Presidential Office. The Kuomintang held
the presidency in Taiwan for more than five decades before
the Democratic Progressive Party won the 2000 and 2004
presidential elections.The KMT returned to power in 2008 and in 2012. The DPP won the 2016 presidential election, marking
the third transition of power since the country’s democratization.
In the January 2016 legislative elections, the DPP gained 60
percent of the seats in the Legislature, while the KMT secured 31
percent. Other major parties that have a presence in the Legislature
include the New Power Party and the People First Party.