Fri, Jan 28, 2005 - Page 8 News List

New paradigm demands flexibility

By HsuYung-ming 徐永明

The Yu Shyi-kun Cabinet, which had defined itself as a "combat Cabinet," has reached its end. The expectations that have been expressed for the next Cabinet include negotiation, communication, reconciliation and cooperation. These words represent a new model for political work and a change from hostility toward compromise and negotiation. Previous talk of "dashing forward," "working hard," "winning a majority," "sustainable government" and so on, has fallen out of fashion. Current hopes for the new Cabinet are giving birth to a new political paradigm.

Last year's legislative elections could be regarded as a turning point. Ahead of the elections, the pan-green camp seemed to hold the upper hand, and a vocabulary of subjugation was used, eg, "terminating" the party-state system, "winning a majority" of legislative seats and the campaign to rectify the national title, all implying the rise of a new force to replace the old. The unexpected outcome of the elections was that the pan-greens did not win a majority.

While we were still busy looking for the reasons behind the pan-green camp's defeat, reconciliation and cooperation between political parties were already becoming part of the political debate, and everything is now being done to turn the confrontational atmosphere into one of harmony and cooperation. This is an expression of the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) flexibility, and it is also the reason why everyone remains suspicious.

The strategic result of cross-party reconciliation has indeed been the dissipation of the pressure for allowing the legislature's majority parties to form the Cabinet. The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the People First Party (PFP) are presently consolidating support for their candidates for the positions of legislative speaker and deputy speaker. Parties are trying to deceive each other on the question of whether party discipline will be used to control how legislators vote, so there has been little time to launch criticism against the formation of a minority Cabinet, not to mention conditions for the selection of the premier.

There will of course be no threats of overturning the Cabinet. It is only too obvious that there will be no immediate cooperation between the DPP and the PFP, which are already hiding their agendas from each other. The PFP already has its hands on the deputy speaker's seat, and the DPP can think about the formation of the next Cabinet.

This is the result of the parties thinking about cross-party reconciliation. As the divisions between the pan-blue and pan-green camps disappeared, the reconciliation between the DPP and the PFP offered the possibility that the political deadlock may be resolved. Although positions in the legislature are distributed as a result of cooperation between the KMT and the PFP, that cooperation was motivated by the possibility of cooperation between the PFP and the DPP. Such is the logic of cross-party reconciliation.

The possibility of reconciliation between the DPP and the PFP was a catalyst that opened up space for PFP development. The action that made it possible to avoid a reaction from pan-blue voters, however, was the KMT's involuntary backing down. The significance of this, however, is far reaching, and the blue/green camp dichotomy is being replaced by multiparty interaction.

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