After the legislative elections, discussions on cross-party reconciliation and the formation of a coalition government have aroused the attention of the general public and given rise to widespread speculation.
Of the various forms a coalition government might take, the most feasible, at the moment, is an alliance between the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the People First Party (PFP). Nevertheless, such an alliance would not be without problems, for the DPP and PFP still have tremendous differences on such issues as national identity and cross-strait relations, and the vicious conflict between the pan-blue and pan-green camps have undermined mutual trust.
Difficult as it may seem, a DPP-PFP coalition government is probably feasible because of the following: First, the lowest-ever turnout in the legislative elections showed that the public are already fed up with cross-party conflicts and hope for a stable political climate.
Second, there is appeal for both President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) in the idea of a coalition. Chen does not want
his eight years in office to be remembered for its lack of achievements, and to see future legislation blocked in the legislature. In Soong's case, with the PFP and KMT drifting closer together, he must avoid becoming marginalized. That is why there is an incentive for both sides.
If such a coalition will allow government policies to be passed by the legislature, DPP supporters are unlikely to resist a coalition. The question is how PFP supporters will feel about it.
The formation of a coalition government is actually a reflection of a pluralist society. A political organization, and its ideology, failing to win the support of over half the electorate is nothing unusual in a democracy. Indeed, coalition government has existed in Europe for a century.
The point about coalitions is that there should no closed-door negotiations nor should it be restricted to a distribution of government positions. I believe that if the DPP and PFP are to form a coalition government, they must reach a consensus in two areas.
The first is in the matter of policy. The DPP and the PFP have to reach a compromise on issues concerning national identity and cross-strait relations. One aim of the proposed resolution to defend the Republic of China is to reduce the division between the parties. The DPP may even consider removing the Taiwan independence clause from its party platform or make it consistent with the content of the Resolution on Taiwan's Future, to bridge the gap between the DPP and PFP.
Soong, as chairman of the PFP, should also adjust the "one China roof" framework he proposed to define cross-strait relations. Only by settling the fundamental difference over national identity can both the DPP and PFP collaborate on other agendas; otherwise, goodwill gestures and negotiation will be meaningless.
What the general public wants to see is that both sides can work together on domestic issues related to people's livelihood, political reform and the economy. These will provide a solid and proper foundation for cooperation between the two sides.
Second, a framework must be established to regulate the distribution of government offices between the DPP and the PFP to avoid accusations of secret deals or distribution of political spoils. The formation of a coalition government should reflect the political power of each party and the distribution of government appointments should reflect the priorities of each party.