Reaching agreement on such critical areas is probably wishful thinking, particularly as we are approaching election season. Ma has a huge legislative majority which enables him to make policy regardless of opposing voices, but in reality his style of government is quite similar to Chen’s. Both have failed or been unwilling to seek consensus and listen to alternative points of view.
The Lee Teng-hui era shows that a different style of politics is possible. Such a consensual approach can pay dividends in deepening Taiwan’s democracy, and strengthening its domestic and international legitimacy. With a consensus on external relations Taiwan will also be in a much stronger position for cross-strait negotiations and expanding its international space.
Dafydd Fell is a senior lecturer in the Department of Politics and International Studies and deputy director of the the Centre of Taiwan Studies, at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.