The unprecedented presidential recall vote failed to achieve the required majority to pass. Although the motion came to naught, emotions within the pan-blue camp continue to run high. Some want to take a more moderate stance, while others want a no confidence vote in the Cabinet. It seems Taiwanese politics will continue to sway between these two forces for a while longer.
The public doesn't seem to have a choice, and although a minority choose to participate in the political show, the majority are silent bystanders or simply part of the stage set.
Why are the Taiwanese people so helpless? Prior to the legislative vote on the presidential recall motion, People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (
"The right to vote on whether or not to recall President Chen Shui-bian [
The reason the public is helpless is that the legislature has substantively deprived them of their right to direct popular power.
How could the Legislative Yuan have such great power over the people? Our history speaks for itself.
On Aug. 23, 2003, after Non-partisan Solidarity Union lawmakers abstained from voting, the legislature passed the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) and the PFP's version of amendments to the Additional Articles of the Constitution (
These laws are similar and share a common goal: the intentional obstruction of direct popular power.
The failure of the KMT and the PFP's recall motion was a result of stringent legal requirements formulated by themselves, but that did not stop them from blaming the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for not cooperating and the Constitution for being flawed.
This is not the first time the pan-blue camp's attempts to block democracy have come back to bite them. Under the former KMT administration, the KMT canceled the legislature's right to approve the appointment of a new premier, to prevent DPP lawmakers from blocking a KMT-nominated premier. When the new regulation became effective in 2000 after the DPP took over power, the KMT began advocating the idea that the majority party in the legislature should form the Cabinet.
KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) moves are equally unreasonable. He said that more than 1.7 million signatures had been collected during the signature drive demanding that Chen resign, and that in about a week, the total number of signatures would reach 2.2 million, the threshold for a popularly initiated referendum.
If public opinion was really that strongly in favor of recalling Chen, Ma should have long ago initiated a referendum to lower the threshold for referendums and presidential recalls. That is the only way the KMT and PFP legislators would be able to pass a presidential recall motion by themselves.
Regardless of the motives behind the recent recall motion, the public should study Ma and Soong's rhetoric and rationally consider the importance of direct popular power. If they don't, they may well be utterly confused by the ongoing political show.