Thu, Nov 08, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Legislative polls deserve attention

By Nat Bellocchi 白樂崎

The legislative elections are only two months from now. Voters will choose their candidate, with the districts' needs first in their mind, but given the results of previous legislative elections, the nation's interests may be of greater importance to them.

Over the last eight years some good work has been done. But the list of problems recently named by the president is much greater. Another four years of this and Taiwan would be weakened probably beyond repair.

In the 1990s, the Legislative Yuan changed after changes were made to the Constitution. It gained wide authority in the development of democracy in Taiwan. It is time to change again. The numbers of seats will be halved, the effects of which are difficult to predict. The larger number of districts may well have some influence on the legislature.

In the past, the KMT held the majority, which made it much more knowledgeable in directing its elections -- as did its considerable assets. Times have changed, as have the people and the KMT's budget. That makes the outcome of the elections even more unpredictable.

If, after the next elections, the legislature is still controlled by one party, while the presidency is controlled by another, Taiwan's problems will continue and pressure for democratic change might increase.

If, on the other hand, the Legislative Yuan and the presidency are controlled by the same party, the nation will see either a continued fight to keep its sovereignty or a gradual move toward China.

The media is focusing on the presidential election, not the legislature. That is not unusual in democratic countries. Many countries have legislative and presidential elections at the same time.

Some do not have strong legislatures and focus little on their legislative elections. But considering how wide the differences between the two main parties are, the legislative election is clearly crucial.

The DPP and KMT have three months after the legislative election to campaign for the presidency. The DPP and KMT have party platforms, but neither of them has delivered an election platform. Reaching consensus within a party on an election platform is difficult in any democratic country. Given the strong differences between the nation's two main parties, the voters will need all the information they can get in the next two elections, which will have a clear impact on their future.

The DPP has an election disadvantage of having a lame duck president. Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) is not in office right now, so he cannot show the public what he would be like as president. This is also the situation in the US, where George W. Bush cannot run for president again. However, there is a difference between the US and Taiwan in the president's popularity.

Taiwan is also apparently suffering a lack of urgency in gathering and supporting candidates for the legislative districts. For the DPP, the legislative elections are especially key.

In the KMT, some surprising moves have caught media attention.

The party presented a draft mission statement without any mention of the "one China" policy or the "1992 consensus." Senior party leaders, including presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), have played down the significance of the change, pointing out that the party has not changed its charter.

Media reports, however, claim that many KMT members are concerned that harping on unification is limiting public support for the party.

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