Yuan induced the Last Emperor to abdicate, ending thousands of years of imperial rule in China. The Constitution called for a strong presidential system with notable checks on the president by the National Assembly.
However, Yuan soon began to assert dictatorial power, ignoring the National Assembly and later abolishing it altogether. In , Yuan proclaimed himself Emperor of China in a largely unpopular move and was forced to retract his declaration shortly before his death in With Yuan Shikai's death the Warlord Era began. Vice President Li Yuanhong succeeded Yuan as president and attempted to reassert the constitutional government, but was soon forced to resign by military strongmen.
The presidency, though leading an internationally recognized government, was thereafter to be headed by a series of prominent warlords. He was ousted in but returned again to Guangzhou in Sun, again expelled from Guangzhou in , returned in to take the title of "Generalissimo of the Military Government.
The government was organized into five branches, with the Executive Yuan , headed by the premier , holding primary administrative authority. The "Chairman of the Nationalist Government," though not given specific presidential powers, took on the functions of a de facto head of state and its official English translation was "President of the National Government of the Republic of China".
This form of government under the KMT lasted through the Northern Expedition, which moved the capital to Nanjing and gave the Nationalist Government domestic control and foreign recognition, and the Second Sino-Japanese War , during which the Japanese established puppet Nationalist Governments with almost the identical organizational structure, until the promulgation of a new Constitution in On 20 May , Chiang Kai-shek was formally elected by the National Assembly to be the first term president.
After the KMT lost the Mainland China in the Chinese Civil War, the government was evacuated to Taiwan, where the term limits for the President specified in the constitution were suspended after This largely froze the membership of the National Assembly mainland delegates and prevented local Taiwanese from widespread legislative and assembly participation in the expired mainland seats until the early s.
The members of the National Assembly continued in their office until , and continued to elect Chiang Kai-shek as president until his death in Presidents were elected by the National Assembly until the first direct presidential election in , while the term length was shortened from six to four years. Official results of the election announcing Sun's election on November 10, The president is currently elected by a plurality voting direct election of the areas administered by the Republic of China for a term of four years.
Before , the president was selected by the National Assembly of the Republic of China for a term of six years. The Constitution names the president as head of state and commander-in-chief of the Republic of China Armed Forces formerly known as the National Revolutionary Army. The president is responsible for conducting foreign relations, such as concluding treaties, declaring war, and making peace.
The president must promulgate all laws and has no right to veto. Other powers of the president include granting amnesty, pardon or clemency, declaring martial law, and conferring honors and decorations. Prior to his election as president in , Chiang Kai-shek had insisted that he be premier under the new Constitution, while allowing the president to which Chiang nominated Hu Shih be a mere figurehead. Thus, until the s power in the Republic of China was personalized rather than institutionalized which meant that the power of the president depended largely on who occupied the office.
For example, during the tenure of Yen Chia-kan , the office was largely ceremonial with real power in the hands of Premier Chiang Ching-Kuo , and power switched back to the presidency when Chiang became president. After President Lee Teng-hui succeeded Chiang as president in , the power struggle within the KMT extended to the constitutional debate over the relationship between the president and the premier.
The subsequent appointment of the first native Taiwanese premier Lien Chan was taken as a sign of Lee's consolidation of power. Moreover, during this time, the power of the premier to approve the president's appointments and the power of the Legislative Yuan to confirm the president's choice of premier was removed establishing the president as the more powerful position of the two. After the election of Chen Shui-bian as president, the presidency and the Legislative Yuan were controlled by different parties which brought forth a number of latent constitutional issues such as the role of the legislature in appointing and dismissing a premier, the right of the president to call a special session of the legislature, and who has the power to call a referendum.
Most of these issues have been resolved through inter-party negotiations. The Constitution of the Republic of China gives a short list of persons who will succeed to the presidency if the office were to fall vacant. According to the Additional Articles of the Constitution, Article 2: Should the offices of both the president and the vice president become vacant, the president of the Executive Yuan shall exercise the official powers of the president and the vice president.
A new president and a new vice president shall be elected in accordance with Paragraph 1 of this article and shall serve out each respective original term until its expiration. The pertinent provisions of Article 49 of the Constitution shall not apply. As no president of the Executive Yuan also known as the Premier has ever succeeded to the presidency under these provisions or their predecessors, under Article 49 , it is untested whether, should the office of the premier be vacant as well, whether, pursuant to the Additional Articles, Article 3, the vice president of the Executive Yuan vice premier , who would be acting premier, would act as president.
Assuming that the vice president of the Executive Yuan would be third in line for the presidency, the current line of succession is: