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The best time to change is 2008

The best time to change is 2008

In the wake of the difficulties now being experienced by the First Family, the pan-blue opposition has called for a recall of President Chen Shui-bian, a no-confidence vote in Premier Su Tseng-chang and even the hoary notion that Cabinet should be organized by the "majority party" in the Legislative Yuan.First of all, we should note that a recall motion would require the support of a two-thirds majority in the Legislature, or the support of 148 legislators of the current 221 seats.
The "pan-blue" conservative opposition parties of the Kuomintang and the People First Party, even including the misnamed Non-Partisan League, have at most 120 seats, 28 seats short of this threshold. Hence, it is evident that a recall or impeachment motion cannot possibly be approved by the Legislative Yuan unless backed by the governing Democratic Progressive Party.
Moreover, even if such a motion should, against all odds, be approved in the Legislative Yuan, passage would require support by one half of the eligible electorate in a subsequent ratification referendum, or the votes of at least 8.24 million voters. Without a huge motivating force, such as overwhelming evidence that the president was directly involved in "high crimes and misdemeanors" that threatened the security of the nation, such a turnout in favor of an impeachment is also extremely unlikely.
The launching of a recall movement by the KMT and PFP is clearly aimed to create more social chaos and try to pressure the president to quit on his own accord and does not seriously aim to hold a recall vote, which could, if it failed, actually bolster instead of undermining his legitimacy and political position.
The other possibility now being considered by the KMT and PFP is a legislative vote of no-confidence vote in Premier Su Tseng-chang. The threshold for a no-confidence vote is far lower, just half or 111 members of the 221-seat Legislature Yuan.
The problem is that President Chen can simply appoint another premier or, even more likely, dismiss the Legislature and call for new legislative elections, which would be held under the new "dual vote, single member constituency" system for a 113-seat instead of a 225-seat Legislature. DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun openly advocated the latter option Monday.
Besides the fact that the boundaries of the new constituencies have not yet been finalized, the cost of a new election to all parties, not to mention to society, would be heavy and only a minority of lawmakers voting for the no-confidence vote could expect to win re-election.
Moreover, it is likely that the ranks of the PFP and the Non-Partisan League, as well as the Taiwan Solidarity Union, would be decimated or worse, leaving the Legislature dominated by the KMT and the DPP alone.
No majority party
The refried notion that the "majority party" should take over the reins of the Executive Yuan has no legal leg to stand on since, thanks to constitutional amendments pushed through the then National Assembly by the KMT itself in 1997, the Legislature no longer has the power to approve the president's nomination of premier.
Even more pertinent is the fact that there is no "majority party" in the Legislative Yuan at present.
After numerous defections from its sometimes allied PFP, the KMT is now the largest party in the Legislative Yuan with 88 seats, one more than the DPP, but still short of the 111 seats needed for a majority.
Although the KMT, the PFP (23 seats) and the New Party (one seat) have a loose alliance, we should recall that these parties ran against each other in the December 2004 Legislative poll.
This case is thus quite different from the situation in countries with a genuine parliamentary system, say, Germany, in which the Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union ran and gained a majority of seats in the Bundestag in an explicit alliance last September.
Moreover, it is open to question whether KMT Chairman and Taipei City Mayor Ma Ying-jeou, would accept such an appointment from President Chen. It is also questionable whether the PFP and the New Party would join the KMT in a Cabinet, given their own mutual contradictions, which will intensify during the upcoming year-end Taipei City and Kaohsiung City mayoral and city council polls.
In fact, the closest situation to the notion of a "majority party" organizing the government under Taiwan's convoluted, outdated and dysfunctional Constitution is the current situation in which the DPP, whose candidate won the March 2004 presidential election with an outright, if slim, majority of 50.11 percent of the 12.8 million votes, is the governing party and thus controls the Executive branch.
A slightly closer approximation would occur if the DPP would invite the Taiwan Solidarity Union and, perhaps, like minded non partisans to join in an unity Cabinet.
This state of affairs would not be altered if President Chen resigned, since the presidency would then be assumed by Vice President Annette Lu, who would not be affected by a resignation or recall of the president. Since Lu shared in the majority mandate gained by Chen in March 2004 and has no problems of political integrity and is a capable politician, the overall political position of the pan-KMT camp might not be as favorable if Ma got his wish and Chen resigned as he and other KMT and PFP leaders might imagine.
The only way to change the fact that the DPP is Taiwan's governing party would be for a recall of both Chen and Lu to succeed. Since the chances of passage for a recall against Chen are virtually nil and there is no rationale for a recall petition against the vice president, the best and most honorable course for the KMT camp to take if they are bent on "winning back" Taiwan will be to cease moves aiming to negate the people's verdict in the March 2000 and March 2004 presidential elections.
Instead, we urge the KMT and PFP to clean their own houses and prepare to compete with the DPP for the mandate of the people based on their proposed policies, capability and integrity in the next scheduled presidential elections in March 2008.


Updated : 2021-10-18 13:25 GMT+08:00