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Sunday, July 26, 2009


ECFA referendum faces a race against the clock

Loa Iok-sin of the Taipei Times reports the latest progress on the DPP's ECFA referendum petition:
“The CEC has confirmed that the referendum petition submitted by [DPP chairperson] Tsai Ing-wen [蔡英文] was signed by 123,462 qualified voters, and thus has reached the threshold set forth in the Referendum Act [公民投票法],” the CEC said in a press release after a meeting yesterday.
The CEC therefore decided to forward the petition to the Executive Yuan’s referendum review committee for further review,” it said....
In the second stage, a referendum proposal approved by the Cabinet referendum review committee must be endorsed by more than 5 percent of the number of voters who voted in the last presidential election — or 866,000 people in this case — to make it to the polling stations.
The Liberty Times adds an important piece of additional information -- the Executive Yuan's referendum review committee is not yet put together, but the cabinet has promised it would make it's suggested list of nominations available to Ma by the end of July.

So the DPP is facing an uphill struggle to get the referendum passed before the ECFA negotiations begin in October, especially since they're likely to be concluded before year's end:
Minister of Economic Affairs Yiin Chii-ming (尹啟銘) said yesterday that he and Chinese Minister of Commerce Chen Deming (陳德銘) had agreed to initiate official cross-strait talks on an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) in October....
His comments came after he met Chen and discussed the ECFA issue for the first time this week in Singapore on the sidelines of a two-day APEC forum there.
“Due to the strong willingness on both sides … The official discussion can be completed sometime before the end of this year,” he said.
The scope and time table for ECFA talks have been largely opaque up until now, with the President, Mainland Affairs Council and Economic Ministry all suggesting vague or contradictory dates at different times over the last few months. But spelling out a precise and ambitious schedule, as Yiin just has, is a fair sign we will be seeing the pact before year's end, and that the resulting petition may not gain enough signatures or jump through technical hurdles in time to make a difference -- especially if the government decides to check the validity of all the signatures in stage two.

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