Since the population of the special municipalities would account for two-thirds of the total population, it could be possible for a small party relying on the support of voters in these municipalities alone to reach the 5 percent of the national vote required to be allotted a legislator-at-large seat. Relying on strategic voting cooperation with other parties, a small party might even be able to win a regular legislator-at-large seat in certain districts.
In distancing itself from the KMT, the New Party does not resort to talk about lofty ideals. Instead, it says that rather than supporting or opposing President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), it would make every effort to compete in the 2014 local elections. In addition, if Chen really does form a new party, it would probably not be very polite toward the DPP either and would certainly nominate an “assassin” in each district in the 2014 local elections.
As elections approach and parties hold their primaries, the KMT and DPP politicians who fail to be nominated could well leave their parties, further strengthening the trend toward a political party regrouping. A new party established by Chen would be the first stage of such a reshuffling of Taiwan’s political map.
The only problem is that, in a political landscape with several co-existing small parties, confrontation between different political parties or ethnic groups subscribing to different ideologies might further worsen due to a lack of mutual trust. To win voter support, intolerance toward other parties would increase, resulting in decreased inter-party dialogue and cooperation.
The New Party’s withdrawal from the pan-blue camp is clearly a declaration that the party will attempt to attract the support of military personnel, civil servants and public school teachers dissatisfied with Ma’s handling of the year-end pension bonus issue. This would inevitably throw a spanner in the works for the government as it tries to reform the pension system.
If Chen does establish a new party, it would have a very significant impact on DPP fundamentalists. Even if members of the pro-Chen One Side, One Country Alliance did not withdraw from the DPP, the party leadership would come under great pressure, making a normal relationship between the DPP and China more unlikely.
The electoral reform introducing a single-member, double ballot system was carried out in the hope that the 50 percent plus one vote would reduce ethnic confrontation caused by fringe candidates currying favor with extremists. However, in the five years since the reform, the wished-for effects have yet to be seen. Instead, the rising importance of the city council elections in the eventual six special municipalities might bring Taiwan back to square one –– probably not what the reformists had in mind.
Jan Shou-jung is a freelance writer.
Translated by Eddy Chang