Regulation of political funds and campaign financing is still always a debatable issue in Taiwan. They are continuing to develop the system to ensure a level playing field. Below are the highlights of the important periods in Taiwan’s history of regulating campaign finance, from 1950 – present:
1950 – 1979: Strict Regulations on Campaign Expenditure
It is in this period where campaign expenditures were strictly regulated by setting an expenditure limit
1980 – 1982: Laissez-Faire
Campaign expenditure limits were repealed and lifted during this period as it cannot be carried out effectively.
1983 – 2003: Reconstructing the Regulations
There are three important developments during this period:
After the 1980 General Election, campaigns were seen to cost a lot of money; therefore, Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan at that time amended the Election and Recall Law to restore the campaign expenditure limit.
Regulation of Contributions to Political Funds was introduced
Change of regulation from authorized to public censorship
2004 – Present: Drafting (or enactment) of the Political Donations Act
The Political Donations Act was enacted during this period. It formally removed the expenditure-limit method and established the contribution-regulated method. The focus of the regulation is on political donations, their source, and how they are collected. Candidates receiving political donations need to submit the accounting report which will be audited by the Control Yuan and reviewed by the public. Among the features of the act are the following:
– Control Yuan will be responsible for the auditing of political donations
– Restrictions on fundraising
– Allowable periods of fundraising
– Candidates are required to open an account in treasury
– Donation limits are spelt out (for individuals, enterprises, civil associations)
– Requirement to submit accounting reports
– Purposes for surplus donations are specified
The current campaign finance regulations in Taiwan are based on the belief that setting an upper limit would infringe on freedom of expression and speech. Although this is still challenged from time to time for its unfair approach to those with lower socioeconomic status and its infringement upon their equality rights protected by the Constitution.
Lai Chin-Kuang (2015), Director of Legal Affairs, Central Election Commission of Taiwan. Election Campaign Financing and Auditing in Taiwan. PowerPoint Presentation presented in the Asian Electoral Stakeholders Forum (AESF-2) in Dili, Timor Leste.