Mon, May 13, 2002 - Page 8 News List

TSU idea to ban joint tickets only hurts Chen

By Chen Sung-shan 陳淞山

On May 6, TSU lawmakers proposed a draft amendment to the Presidential and Vice Presidential Election and Recall Law (總統副總統選罷法), requiring that a presidential candidate and his or her running mate must come from the same party. In response to the issue, Minister of the Interior Yu Cheng-hsien (余政憲) immediately expressed his support for the amendment.

The question of whether presidential and vice-presidential candidates on the same ticket should come from the same party can be discussed in a rational way. To make the right judgement, we must examine the issue in light of Taiwan's national conditions, political environment, development of party politics and other complex aspects. Then we can develop the appropriate presidential-election system for Taiwan.

When nominating their candidates for the 2000 presidential election, almost every party considered the possibility of cross-party cooperation and joint tickets with independent politicians. Even the winner, Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), thought about running on a joint ticket with someone from business or academia. Obviously, when deciding on presidential and vice-presidential nominees, major parties in Taiwan are not opposed to picking candidates from outside their parties. The people of Taiwan are not opposed to such a political phenomenon either.

That being so, the TSU's proposal does not tally with our national conditions and political environment. Such an amendment can be described by the old Chinese saying "adding feet to a snake" (畫蛇添足), as it is superfluous in the development of Taiwan's presidential election system.

Moreover, Taiwanese people have a tendency to vote for candidates, not for parties. Hence, during legislative elections in relatively large electoral districts, it is a rare for candidates from the same party to hold joint campaigns or adopt a "vote-allocation" strategy to try and get as many of the party's candidates elected as possible. As for elections for local government heads, a candidate's image, charm and ability -- rather than his or her party -- are crucial for winning public support. Therefore, the TSU plan does not fit well with the development of party politics in Taiwan.

In proposing the amendment, perhaps the TSU lawmakers were trying to block a Lien-Soong ticket in the 2004. By promoting such political thinking, however, they are actually damaging Chen. Chen has expressed his opposition to the proposal, a politically correct move. Otherwise, he might be misunderstood by the public to be tacitly agreeing to the TSU's politically motivated move.

I believe that the design of the presidential election system is suitable for Taiwan's national conditions and political environment. There is no need to require candidates on the same ticket to come from the same party. The amendment would only allow the opposition to describe it as "green terror" or "political murder" aimed at excluding a Lien-Soong ticket from the 2004 presidential election. Letting the proposal die will also give Chen more space to choose his running mate from outside the party if he wants.

Chen Sung-shan is a member of the Civil Service Protection and Training Commission under the Examination Yuan.

Translated by Eddy Chang

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