Saturday’s presidential and legislative elections ensured that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) will enjoy another four years of control in both the executive and legislative branches in the government.
Although the KMT maintained its legislative majority by winning 64 of the 113 seats, it suffered a net loss of 17 seats, while the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) picked up 13 additional seats, giving it the ability to propose presidential and vice presidential recalls, as well as amendments to the Constitution because it holds more than a third of the legislature.
While the legislature will largely be dominated by the KMT and DPP, the strong showing by smaller parties was an intriguing result. The combination of the nation’s nine smaller parties received more than 20 percent of the party vote.
Both the People First Party (PFP) and Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) made their way back into the legislature by meeting the 5 percent party vote threshold, securing both parties legislator-at-large seats. And although the Green Party Taiwan failed to pass the 5 percent hurdle, it managed to garner 1.7 percent of the party vote.
The strong performance by the PFP, the TSU and the other small parties reflected the voters’ desire for a legislature with diverse representation. While voters still largely stuck with the two major parties when choosing a presidential candidate, they showed they were much more willing to take a chance on a smaller party when casting their party vote.
As the new legislative session begins on Feb. 1, we fully expect both the PFP and the TSU to use their position on the legislative floor to monitor the KMT and the DPP despite each being classified as members of the pan-blue and pan-green camps respectively.
We hope the fresh faces from the two parties’ legislator-at-large lists, including financial expert Thomas Lee (李桐豪) and writer Chang Hsiao-feng (張曉風) of the PFP, as well as lawyers Hsu Chun-hsin (許忠信) and Huang Wen-ling (黃文玲) of the TSU, will bring new possibilities to the legislature.
For the KMT, it must carry out President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) promise of paying more attention to labor, cultural, educational and environmental issues, as well as the views of its own legislators from its legislator-at-large list.
The KMT’s 16 legislators-at-large are mostly made up of non-party members, including Children’s Welfare League Foundation executive director Alicia Wang (王育敏), Taiwan Organization for Disadvantaged Patients secretary-general Yang Yu-hsing (楊玉欣) and Environmental Protection Administration Deputy Minister Chiu Wen-yen (邱文彥). As advocates in various fields, the KMT’s new legislators need to take advantage of their governing position and live up to the public’s expectations by facilitating the legislation of bills that will address issues ranging from social welfare and tax reform, to judicial reforms.
The DPP, being the largest party in opposition, must make more of an effort to monitor the KMT’s legislative performance and pay greater attention to the Ma administration’s cross-strait policies, as many peopel are worried that Ma will move full speed ahead on closer cross-strait ties now that he has secured a second, and final, term.
Finally, Ma must not ignore the voters’ call for fair and diverse representation in the legislature, and he must work to put an end to backroom deals. He should remember the promise he made in his victory speech — that the KMT will work harder to seek cooperation from opposition parties in the legislature and act more humbly to pass legislation that is aimed at creating a better environment for all Taiwanese.