Edited by Susan Rose-Ackerman and Peter L. Lindseth
Chapter 15: Experimenting with Independent Commissions in a New Democracy with a Civil Law Tradition: The Case of Taiwan
Jiunn-rong Yeh In 2005, the Taiwanese government established the National Communication Commission (NCC), the first ministerial-level independent regulatory commission in Taiwan. Not surprisingly, its establishment triggered intense political confrontations, partisan fights and constitutional court rulings against the backdrop of contentious polity in a new democracy. Independent commissions, primarily based upon the American model, have been introduced and institutionalized in various legal and political contexts.1 In spite of the growth of the commission form, we know little about their adoption and functioning in different socio-political contexts in emerging democracies. This chapter begins to remedy that lack by using Taiwan as a case study to demonstrate the perils of and prospects for introducing independent commissions into new democracies with civil administrative law systems. First, Section 1 presents some background on the use of commissions in Taiwan and a case history of Taiwan’s first independent commission, the National Communication Commission (NCC). Section 2 then places the NCC in the context of an institutional and functional analysis of the many meanings of ‘independence’ as applied to regulatory commissions. Next Section 3 turns to positive political economy to explore the political dynamics behind the creation of such commissions and the application of these arguments to Taiwan. Finally, Section 4 considers how to match the design of commissions to the disparate reasons why they may seem valuable. I conclude that independent commissions ought not to be forced into a single template. There are merits to independence when the regulatory agency’s functions and operations are strongly linked...
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