Because of the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) failure to win a legislative majority, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) resigned as chairman of the DPP and the pan-green camp is in the doldrums. But while it is a fact that the pan-green camp failed to deliver for their supporters, the question that should be asked is what sort of majority the pan-blue camp has won.
The honeymoon for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and party Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and the People First Party (PFP) and party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) is over -- if it had really started. In the run-up to election day, the two parties came into conflict over money and the distribution of votes. After the result was known, Soong declared that the PFP would go its own way rather than be subordinate to the KMT. He also said the KMT had closed the door to negotiation between the parties, and that cooperation looked very unlikely, let alone a merger.
Soong returned to Taiwan from the US on Monday to attend the funeral of former first lady Faina Chiang Fang-liang (蔣方良), but he returned to the US the very next day after the briefest of communications with Lien at the service. Political alliances are changing: On Tuesday, the PFP cooperated with the pan-green camp to place the political party assets bill on the legislative agenda for a first reading. Lien was furious over this, later saying at a KMT Central Standing Committee meeting that such support for the DPP in probing KMT assets had caused the party "great disappointment."
The public recently voted in support of the current state of affairs -- steady growth. All parties must listen to this judgment in a humble manner, end the power struggles and try to understand that the national interest lies in cooperation. When Chen resigned as party chairman, he moved toward the political high ground of a "president for all." He should now take the initiative and invite party leaders to offer input on major policies and seek as much cooperation from them as possible under the circumstances.
In the 20 days remaining in this legislative session, a number of important issues remain unresolved, including the confirmation of Control Yuan appointments, the arms procurement bill, the Organic Law of the Executive Yuan (行政院組織法) and next year's budget. If the government and opposition persist with confrontation in the legislature, they will be doing nobody a service. If the legislature refuses to review the list of Control Yuan nominees, then not only will the Control Yuan be hamstrung when it convenes on Feb. 1, the Constitution will also have been violated. If the arms procurement bill is not reviewed, the nation's defenses will be compromised, giving the US good reason to doubt whether this country is really willing to defend itself.
All parties must make the national interest their top priority and seek a practical solution to defense needs and the cost of necessary arms, rather than using the issue as a tool for political struggle.
The political establishment now faces a comprehensive reshuffle. The stances of the pan-blue and pan-green camps are consequently adjusting to the new situation, and this may reduce the level of political extremism on show. It should now become possible for various problems to be dealt with through clearer channels of communication. With this, Taiwan can only begin moving forward again.