Commenting on the recent interaction between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the People First Party (PFP), former KMT chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) said in an interview on Thursday last week that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), the current KMT chairman, was a righteous and honest person, but that he was not particularly adept when it came to negotiating this kind of issue.
Wu said Ma had done his best and that he hoped things would work out right. As for PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜), Wu said that he was a mild-mannered person who was open to communication. Wu praised both men as being good and sincere people, but he did not explain why these two good people are finding it so hard to talk to each other.
Actually, the main bone of contention between the KMT and the PFP is that the KMT wants the two parties to jointly nominate legislative district candidates based on who gets the top score in opinion polls, but the PFP is finding it difficult to meet this proposal. The PFP’s problem is it can only put forward candidates for at-large legislative seats if it nominates at least 10 district candidates.
Most people will find this puzzling. Why is it the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) can go ahead and put forward candidates for at-large legislative seats without nominating any district candidates, and yet the PFP has to propose 10 or more district candidates before it can draw up a party list?
The answer is to be found in Article 24, Paragraph 4 of the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act (公職人員選舉罷免法), which lays out the conditions for political parties to propose candidates for at-large legislative seats.
Subparagraph 2 of Paragraph 4 describes one of the four possible conditions, which is that the party in question must have attained 2 percent or more of all votes cast in the three most recent national elections for at-large legislative seats and those representing citizens residing overseas.
Although this regulation talks about the three most recent national elections for at-large and expatriate legislative seats, actually there was until recently no vote for at-large seats — in other words, voters could only for a candidate, not a party. It was not until the most recent legislative election, in 2008, that a two-vote system was introduced, allowing voters to cast one vote for a candidate and another for a party. For that reason, the only at-large votes available for counting are those from the 2008 election. The TSU meets this requirement, but the PFP does not, because while the TSU had its own party list in the last legislative election all the PFP’s at-large candidates were co-nominated by the KMT, and so were included in the KMT party list.
The PFP officially only nominated one Aboriginal candidate in the 2008 election; all its district and at-large nominees were co-nominated by the KMT. In effect, the PFP joined the KMT and became a faction inside the bigger pan-blue party. Since Ma and his team took office, they have ostracized local factions and the PFP has been no exception.
The Chung Hsing Bills Finance case is the biggest albatross around Soong’s neck. When prosecutors decided not to indict Soong, the KMT fully accepted the decision and did not pursue the matter any further, because Soong and then-KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) had patched up their differences. However, after Ma took office, the KMT leadership overturned the policy decision made under Lien’s chairmanship, and, when Soong withdrew the NT$240 million (US$8.3 million) associated with the Chung Hsing case from his account, the KMT immediately took steps to recover it.