Sun, Dec 12, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Election is over, but issues remain unresolved

By Wang Yeh-lih 王業立

ILLUSTRATION: MOUNTAIN PEOPLE

The election of the Sixth Legislative Yuan has come to a close. It may have been the last time a democratic country uses the single non-transferable vote with a multi-member district system. As the system passes into history, all its special features were played to the hilt during this fierce election campaign.

Throughout the campaign -- which was geared solely towards sensational issues and ignored all policy debate -- both the pan-blues and the pan-greens have made winning a majority of seats -- not votes -- their greatest concern. With the aim of winning a legislative majority, both camps have made vote allocation and tactical voting their campaign strategy of choice.

The results of the elections have turned back the clock, and the promise for a new era of "green government" represented by the re-election of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) has not been realized, as the pan-blue camp maintained its majority in the legislature by winning 114 seats to the pan-green camp's 101 seats, and the 10 seats won by independents.

As a result, the legislative environment retains the possibility of dynamic interaction, and the importance of the Non-Partisan Solidarity Union (NPSU, 無黨聯盟) and independent legislators will increase. The NPSU will not easily enter into a permanent alliance with the green camp. At the very minimum, they will maintain their freedom in the short term: cooperation with the pan-green or pan-blue camp on an issue-to-issue basis will be their best choice.

As the pan-blue camp has won a clear majority, this cannot be considered a successful election for the pan-greens.

Nevertheless, although the pan-green camp did not realize its hopes of winning a majority, its position in the legislature is stronger than it has been for the last three years. It still has the opportunity of gaining support from the NPSU and some Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators, but it will have to work harder to win such support than ever before. This means the continuance of a situation in which the government has no guarantee of obtaining a majority within the legislature, and this will cause significant difficulties as regards policy implementation and passing legislation. It will now be essential to Chen's policy implementation that the green camp manages to convince some legislators from the NPSU or the KMT to join it to form a legislative majority to push through legislation.

The pan-blue camp now has the slimmest majority it has ever held in the legislature. The possibility that pan-blue legislators would choose to leave to join the pan-green camp has been greatly reduced, although quite a few variables remain regarding the issues of the pan-blue camp's internal power transition and party mergers.

When it comes to the issue of a transition of power, KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) is all but certain to resign, but timing of such an event and the selection of a successor -- whether Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) or Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) will take over as chairman -- will probably be delayed. As for the proposed merger between the KMT and the People First Party (PFP), the latter's poor performance and the fact that it now has fewer seats than before, in addition to grudges between the two parties' legislators stemming from the election campaign may mean that there will be changes to the timing of a merger.

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