Sources and Implications of Malapportionment in Taiwan





Published date: 

十二月, 2016


Nathan F. Batto


Malapportionment in Taiwan’s legislature is above the global average, with nearly 8% of all seats apportioned to districts that would not otherwise have them. Some of this malapportionment is explicitly intended and has a normative justification based in the importance of maintaining communities of interest. However, most of the malapportionment is unintended. This paper identifies four sources of malapportionment, including the decision to distribute seats to cities, counties, and indigenous people, the size of the legislature, the process of drawing districts within cities and counties, and population growth. Of these, more than half of the total malapportionment stems from the decision to cut the size of the legislature in half. Malapportionment has several concrete political results. It slightly inflates the voice of rural areas, significantly inflates the voice of indigenous people, and dramatically inflates the voice of voters in offshore islands, especially in Lienchiang County. It also creates a normatively unjustifiable partisan bias of roughly 2.5-3.0% toward the KMT-led blue camp and against the DPP. The paper concludes by discussing possible remedies, including expanding the number of seats and changing the electoral formula.