The elections for the sixth Legislative Yuan have come to a close. It appears that the overall political scene has not changed. The fact that the smaller governing party will be dealing with a larger opposition party remains.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is still the second-largest party in the legislature and the pan-blue camp can maintain its majority if the KMT continues its alliance with the People First Party (PFP). The political climate is still presided over by the same group of politicians, although the situation they find themselves in is slightly different.
Not only will there be changes within the political parties, the relationship between the parties may also change.
After three consecutive losses in the previous elections, the KMT, at the helm of the pan-blue camp, has ended its losing streak, but has not climbed back to its past political dominance.
The pan-blues seized 114 seats and the pan-greens 101 seats in the 225-seat legislature. Compared with the previous legislative elections, the pan-blues lost one seat and the pan-greens gained one seat. The total vote for the pan-greens rose by 2.2 percent, whereas it dropped by 3 percent for the pan-blue camp. As such the pan-blue camp has once again gained a majority in the legislature.
The question now is whether or not Lien Chan (連戰) will finally step down as chairman of the KMT and hand the reins of power to the younger generation. If the victorious Lien becomes so conceited that he decides to cling to his chairmanship, it remains to be seen how he will keep control in the legislature and also over the younger KMT politicians.
More importantly, we do not yet know if the PFP is willing to merge unconditionally with of the KMT with Lien still at the helm. PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) thinks of his party as the third power after the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and KMT, adding that the PFP will play the crucial minority role in the competition for the Legislative Yuan speakership.
Thus, it would seem that the KMT and PFP are no longer compatible, and neither is willing to play second fiddle to the other. On the other hand, if the KMT wants to maintain a balancing force to the government, it must rely on the PFP. Inside the PFP rank and file, however, disagreement has risen. Legislators-elect such as Lee Ching-Hua (李慶華), Diane Lee (李慶安) and Chou Hsi-Wei (周錫煒) have called on Soong to make concessions to the issue of merging with the KMT, reflecting tension throughout the party.
The green camp's failure to win a majority is a setback for the Chen administration, but it is not necessarily a setback for the pan-greens.
For the moment, we are sure that Chen's ambitions have not been fulfilled and a host of policy proposals will probably not go through. He has to face up to the reality and plan a whole new strategy.
What Chen has to mull over is how to gain control of the legislature. If he cannot, he has to make sure the legislature will not become a source of political upheaval. The president will have to think outside the box if he is to resolve the friction between the green and blue camps.
The mainstream values of this nation without a doubt have to remain in place. More importantly, the DPP has to stick to its principles.
It is more difficult to accomplish a mission in times of adversity than in favorable circumstances. These are trials for both Chen and the DPP.