It is hard to foresee when the Gongliao plant will finally go into operation. The three existing plants have been shut down many times. There have been a lot of problems with the dry storage facilities for spent fuel at the oldest nuclear power plant at Jinshan (金山) in New Taipei City, and there is no solution in sight for dealing with all the nation’s nuclear waste.
One mid-career politically appointed official from the KMT asks how the party’s legislators can hope to get re-elected if they are made to go on accepting nuclear power. In New Taipei City, Taipei, Keelung and Yilan County, in particular, the KMT’s stance on the Gongliao plant will poke a big hole in its support base, making it very hard for the KMT to continue in government.
The DPP, too, finds itself in a dilemma. Two of its policy mainstays have now become weapons in the hands of the other side. DPP lawmakers are doggedly occupying the speaker’s podium in the legislative chamber. Even if they cannot achieve their aim, they can be seen to be making an effort.
The KMT hopes that DPP occupation of the podium and getting into fistfights will win the KMT more support from its less dedicated “pale blue” supporters, as well as swing voters.
The strongest will to fight can be seen among civic groups. Anti-nuclear groups were opposed to politicians manipulating the “birdcage” referendum.
After five months of campaigning, most of them realized that the poll might as well go ahead. It will educate the public to oppose “birdcage” referendums in future, and instead move on to achieving real direct democracy.
If a referendum on the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant provides an opportunity to achieve direct democracy, then the NT$280 billion that has already been spent on the plant will not have been completely wasted.
Jay Fang is chairman of the Green Consumers’ Foundation.
Translated by Julian Clegg