Research of Mathenjwa shows that if elections are contested fairly, citizens are more inclined to replace an unpopular government through elections rather than by violence. Since the martial law period, the high election deposit in Taiwan has seriously hindered the resource-disadvantaged candidates from conducting fair political campaigns through elections. Election deposit systems, which reinforce the dominance of incumbents, and the impedance of candidacy also causes slow replacement rate of elected officials. This, forces voters to often choose between the candidates of the two major parties.
Election deposit has become one of the necessary conditions for candidates to register for election according to law. This makes would-be candidates to pledge large sums of money to the election commissions when they register to run. Therefore, the citizens’ right of participation has been seriously affected by the system.
This thesis studies from three aspects: the guarantee of political rights from the constitutional perspective, the cost effectiveness from the economic perspective and the selection of talents from the political perspective. Through two research methods of data analysis and in-depth interview, this paper makes an in-depth discussion on three core aspects, such as the election deposit system itself, the specific amounts of the deposit and the threshold for refund.
This study found that the number of candidates has negligible effect on the cost of election organisation. Instead, the key factors affecting election organisation cost are linked with the populations of constituencies and the types of election held. The authorities have always restricted the number of candidates on the grounds of saving public funds. However, it is unclear what the exact amount of administrative resources and important public interests to be protected. It is also clear that the election deposit is not proportional. Moreover, there is no academically basis for determining the amount of deposit, which is determined by the meeting of Election Commissioners. It is not stated which indicators are used to strike a balance between deterring potentially insincere candidates from applying for registration and maintaining the people’s participation in political power. The deposit however, which uses financial ability as the only screening threshold for candidate registration, has no alternative and lacks supervision and relief mechanisms. It is not the only and least invasive means of restraining the number of candidates, and it cannot pass the inspection of constitutionality.
The conclusion of this study shows that the more democratic countries have lower restrictions on being a candidate, and the countries with existing election deposit systems are mostly former British colonies or countries who were under authoritarian regime. According to the results of the democracy index, most of the top countries have no deposit system, while Japan, South Korea, and Singapore, which are the favorite examples by the authorities with higher deposit amounts than Taiwan, are far behind Taiwan in the ranking of democracy index and the low ratio of female participation in politics.
In order to enable every citizen to exercise the right to vote and stand for election, and to ensure that all candidates have the same chance of being elected, the authorities should reduce the election threshold by abolishing the deposit system or substantially reducing the amount of deposit and the threshold for refund, and increasing the forms of election other than money, such as joint signatures.
Even under the current election deposit system, the authorities should specify the criteria for testing equity and establish a hearing system for determining the amount of election deposit. The confiscated deposits should be used to set up a public election fund, provide deposit loans for vulnerable candidates and optimize the election system.
The government should also strictly restrict private advertisements of candidates, and convert the budget of the subsidy for campaign funds into public publicity channels such as public billboards and public video and audio advertisements. Only in this way can we eliminate the competition inequality caused by resource weakness and promote the positive development of democracy.