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Constitution of the Republic of China

The Constitution of the Republic of China is currently the basic governing document for the areas controlled by the Republic of China, namely all of Taiwan Province, and parts of Kinmen and Lienchiang counties of Fujian Province. The constitution itself was drafted in 1947 before the fall of Mainland China to the Communists, and was in part drafted as a means of creating a coalition government between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party of China. The Constitution was seen as the third and final stage of Kuomintang reconstruction of China.

The Constitution establishes a presidential republic with a National Assembly and five branches of government (Yuans): the Executive Yuan[?], Legislative Yuan, Judicial Yuan[?], Examination Yuan[?], and Control Yuan[?]. In practice, the Examination Yuan, the Control Yuan, and the National Assembly have become marginal organizations.

Although the constitution foresaw regular democratic elections, these were not held until the 1990s. In 1954, the Judicial Yuan[?] ruled that the delegates elected to the National Assembly and Legislative Yuan in 1947 would remain in office until new elections could be held in Mainland China which had come under the control of the Communist Party of China in 1949. This judicial ruling allowed the Kuomintang to rule unchallenged in Taiwan until the 1990s. In 1991, these members for forced to resign by a subsequent Judicial Yuan ruling.

In the 1970s, supplemental elections began to be held for the Legislative Yuan. Although these were for a limited number of seats, they did allow for the transition to a more open political system.

In the late 1980s, the Constitution faced the growing democratization on Taiwan combined with the mortality of the delegates that were elected in 1947. Faced with these pressures, the first National Assembly voted itself out of office and adopted major amendments in 1991, most notably to provide for direct election of the President of the Republic of China.

Until the 1990s, the document was considered illegitimate by most supporters of Taiwan independence because of the fact that it was not drafted in Taiwan. However, the document gained more legitimacy among independence supporters throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s and it is now accepted as the basic law of Taiwan by all of the major parties, although some such as the Taiwan Solidarity Union would like to see it abandoned.

One recent controversy involving the ROC Constitution is the right to referendum which is mentioned in the Constitution. Although the right is there, implementing legislation has been blocked by the pan-blue coalition largely out of suspicions that proponents of a referendum law would be used to overturn the ROC Constitution and provide a means to declare Taiwan independence.

See also: Taiwan - Politics of Taiwan

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