Parliament changes the constitution
National Assembly approves four constitutional amendments and votes itself out of business. A two-party system should emerge.

Taipei (AsiaNews/SCMP) – Taiwan's National Assembly yesterday approved four important amendments to the country's constitution. The move transforms the existing political system in favour of a two-party system and ensures that future constitutional changes will be decided by 50+1 per cent of registered voters in referendums.

Originally, the Assembly was set up to elect the President and was made up of delegates. It gradually lost power after 1996 when the post of President became elected. Now, in adopting the amendments, it has effectively voted for its own abolition.

Reforms were proposed and approved by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Kuomintang (KMT). The final count was 249 in favour, 48 opposed and 2 abstentions.

To come into force, the vote must now be approved by Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian.

Beijing, which considers Taiwan a breakaway province, is concerned that the referendum might be lead to the island's unilateral declaration of the independence.

However, Mr Chen has said that intends to promote a second round of constitutional reforms, but has excluded independence from the list of issues to be debated.

He has invited all of Taiwan's political parties "to help promote further reforms", but none has yet to respond.