Wed, Apr 27, 2011 - Page 8 News List

Changing dates mere manipulation

By Lin Cho-shui 林濁水

Local elections were combined in 2006 and last year, but without adjusting the terms. The period between election and inauguration of township mayors was extended by three months, leading to a series of problems. Just imagine what would happen in a presidential election.

The administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) says a period with a caretaker government differs from a period with a lame duck government.

The problem is that the KMT is preparing legislation that will regulate the execution of power during the caretaker period. Judging from this law, the government can continue to run routine business during the caretaker period, but must stop if a major event occurs. Doesn’t this make it obvious that according to the spirit of the law, the government can take care of small matters, but in big matters, it becomes a lame duck government?

The reasons they have used to explain why extending the period with a lame duck government is of no great concern are preposterous. Because the current political and economic situation, both domestically and internationally, is fluid and often changes overnight, and because major disasters unfortunately do occur, and the outgoing president cannot take responsive measures while the incoming president still cannot exercise the powers of his or her office, the country cannot respond to any of these changes, be they good or bad. Every opportunity will be lost and nothing can be done about public suffering or chaos.

The Ma administration says that combining the presidential and legislative elections could save up to NT$470 million (US$16.3 million). Even if the figure were bigger than that, it would only amount to the annual budget of a small township administration.

In the end, there is one single reason why the government is insisting on combining these elections: They know that their approval ratings are too low. They are pinning their hopes on combining these elections to be able to use the legislative elections to mobilize the KMT’s grassroots support in order to save the presidential election, and this isn’t right.

This is not the first time I have criticized the government from a constitutional perspective. In the 2004 legislative elections and the 2005 county commissioner and mayoral elections, I used the spirit of the Constitution as my point of departure for criticizing the Democratic Progressive Party administration for recklessly changing the election date to improve their election prospects.

Who would have expected that once former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) had stepped down, the Ma administration’s election date manipulations would turn out to be 10 times worse than even that of the Chen government. It is sickening.

Lin Cho-shui is a former Democratic Progressive Party legislator.

TRANSLATED BY PERRY SVENSSON

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