Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Legislative Yuan

The Legislative Yuan (立法院 pinyin: Lfǎ Yan, literally 'law-establishing court') is the legislative body of the Republic of China, which currently controls Taiwan, Penghu, Quemoy, and Matsu Islands.

Table of contents
1 Position in the structure of government
2 Composition
3 Work
4 History
5 See also
6 External Link

Position in the structure of government

The Legislative Yuan is one of the five branches (called 'yuàn', meaning 'courts'; compare: Spanish Cortes) of government stipulated by the Constitution of the Republic of China, which follows the San-min Chu-i (political theory of Sun Yat-sen); the others are the Executive Yuan, the Judicial Yuan, the Examination Yuan, and the Control Yuan. Although sometimes referred to as a "parliament", the Legislative Yuan, under Sun's political theory, is a branch of government in a presidential system, while only the National Assembly of the Republic of China (now a dormant body), with the power to amend the consitution and formerly to elect the President and Vice President, can be considered a parliament.

The Legislative Yuan has the power to pass all ordinary legislation. The amount of control the Legislative Yuan has over the Executive Yuan was unclear throughout the 1990s, but a convention has developed that the Executive Yuan is responsible to the President of the Republic of China and not the Legislative Yuan.


The current and 5th Legislative Yuan has 225 members. 168 are elected by popular vote. Of the remainder, 41 are elected on the basis of the proportion of nationwide votes received by participating political parties. Eight are allocated for overseas Chinese and are selected by the parties on the basis of the proportion of votes received nationwide. Eight seats are reserved for the aboriginal populations, with half of those seats directly elected and half allocated by party lists. Members serve three-year terms. The election method is single non-transferable vote which produces some very interesting electoral strategies.


Much of the work of the Legislative Yuan is done via legislative committees, and a common sight on Taiwanese television involves officials of the executive branch answering extremely hostile questions from opposition members in committees. In the 1990s, there were a number of cases of fist fights breaking out on the floor, usually triggered by some preceived unfair procedure ruling, but in recent years, these have become extremely rare.


In 1947, the Kuomintang promulgated the current Constitution of the Republic of China and the 1st Legislative session met in the Chinese capital Nanjing in 1948. In 1949, the mainland fell to the Communists and the Legislative Yuan (along with the entire ROC government) was transplanted to Taipei.

The 1st Legislative Yuan was to have been elected for a term of three years ending in 1951; however, the fall of the Mainland made it impossible to hold new elections. As a result, the Judicial Yuan decided that the members of the Legislative Yuan would continue to hold office until new elections could be held on the Mainland. Over the years, deceased members elected on the mainland were not replaced while additional seats were created for Taiwan starting in 1969. Although the elected members of the Legislative Yuan did not have the ability to defeat legislation, they were able to use the Legislature Yuan as a platform to express political dissent. Until 1991, opposition parties in Taiwan were formally illegal, however in the 1970's, candidates to the Legislative Yuan would run as dang wai or outside the party and in 1985, candidates began to run under the banner of the Democratic Progressive Party.

The same Legislative Yuan remained until December 31, 1991, when as part of subsequent Judicial Yuan ruling, a Second Legislative Yuan was elected. The third LY, elected in 1995, had 157 members serving 3-year terms. The fourth LY, elected in 1998, was expanded to 225 members in part to include legislators from the abolished provincial legislature of Taiwan province.

The Legislative Yuan greatly increased its prominence after the 2000 Presidential elections in Taiwan when the Executive Yuan was controlled by the Democratic Progressive Party while the Legislative Yuan had a large majority of Kuomintang members. The legislative elections in late 2001 produced a contentious situation in which the pan-blue coalition has only a thin majority over the governing pan-green coalition in the legislature [1], making the passage of bills often dependent on the votes of a few defectors and independents. Because of the party situation there have been constitutional conflicts between the Legislative Yuan and the executive branch over the process of appointment for the premier, whether the president has the power to call a special session, and who has the power to call a referendum. In addition, there have been calls particularly by the Taiwan Solidarity Union to reduce the size of the Legislative Yuan.

See also

External Link