Fri, Mar 26, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Why the charade?

For the sake of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)-People First Party (PFP) alliance, some people within the camp should come up with the guts to tell KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) that their latest demand -- that a new election be held -- will likely work against them.

The pan-blue's offbeat performance after the election has not only provoked the resentment of the 50 percent of voters who voted for President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), but is increasingly trying the patience and even angering moderates who voted for the pan-blue ticket. Under the circumstances, Lien and Soong may be defeated by a much greater margin in a new election.

During this past week, two surveys conducted by pro-pan-blue Chinese-language newspapers released on Monday and yesterday indicated that the majority of the general public disagrees with the massive protest going on in front the Presidential Office. The poll released on Monday cited a figure of 65 percent, and yesterday's poll 59 percent.

Also, by Wednesday, virtually all major news media, including those that are pro-blue, began to urge the alliance leaders to accept the proposal offered by Chen to amend the Presidential and Vice Presidential Election and Recall Law (總統副總統選 罷法), so that a provision on an administrative recount of all votes when the winning margin is less than 1 percent can be inserted and applied retroactively to the election.

The pan-blues have nothing to blame for this but their own ridiculous handling of their defeat. While their sense of disappointment and anger from losing on such a narrow margin -- 0.228 percent -- is understandable, their handling of the situation is not. Leaving aside the issue of the inherent danger in inciting tens of thousands of highly-volatile supporters to take to the streets in protest, the way that the pan-blues have repeatedly escalated and shifted their demands not only tries the patience of everyone, but reveals a very fundamental problem within the camp -- the absence of crisis-management and decision-making abilities.

On the evening of his election defeat, Lien stated that he wanted to file a "a lawsuit overturning the election result." That, of course, was entirely within his right, and very likely he will eventually be entitled to a judicial recount of the votes. However, once all the ballot boxes were sealed by the courts 12 hours after his speech, the pan-blues changed their mind and began to ask for an immediate administrative recount, because such a lawsuit could take months.

That was an impossible demand, since the law does not provide for administrative recounts. But when Chen agreed to amend the Presidential and Vice Presidential Election and Recall Law to have an administrative recount by next Tuesday, the pan-blues then refused the offer and also refused to review a bill that they themselves had submitted to the Legislative Yuan for that purpose earlier. Instead, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), a KMT vice chairman, asked that a state of emergency be declared to make possible an administrative recount.

Then on Wednesday, sensing that a recount would be unlikely to overturn the election result, Lien and his supporters began to talk about holding a new election which is only possible if a verdict is entered, finding the past election to be illegal. This means that Lien and Soong will have to go back to square one -- filing lawsuits and seeking judicial relief.

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