Sat, Jan 09, 2016 - Page 8 News List

DPP should press to form Cabinet

By YenChueh-an 顏厥安

After the legislature’s attempt at constitutional reform ended in failure in June last year, the only political agenda on the table seems to be the presidential and legislative elections.

However, the defects of the Constitution would not go away, but are bound to crop up after the elections. More likely than not, those defects would swiftly develop into serious constitutional controversies.

Estimates on the election’s outcome show that not only will Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) defeat her rival by several million votes, but the DPP is also very likely to secure a majority of seats in the legislature.

Even if that does not happen, the alliance between the DPP and other political parties would surely win more than half of the legislative seats. Although the legislature does not have power over the appointment of the premier, the Constitution requires that the Cabinet answer to the legislature.

Following legislative elections, the Cabinet resigns according to precedent and the constitutional interpretations by the Council of Grand Justices, and the president appoints a new premier, who forms a new Cabinet.

Before President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) won the previous presidential election, he announced that if he were to win the election, he would appoint the leader of the majority party to form the Cabinet. This means that after the election on Saturday next week, Ma might appoint the DPP’s leader as premier. Allowing the majority party to form the Cabinet has been a long-term strategy of constitutional reform followed by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Eric Chu (朱立倫).

If Ma really asks Tsai to form a Cabinet, how should the DPP respond? Or, conversely, should the DPP take the initiative to form a Cabinet next month and announce that it would put forward a vote of no confidence if anything other than a DPP Cabinet is opted for.

However, the situation seems to be that Ma wants to proceed with his “unification legacy,” so he has no intention to let the DPP form a Cabinet.

The DPP also does not want to take over executive power three months before the next president is sworn in. It would actually prefer the current government to continue to make a fool of itself.

However, due to the following reasons, the DPP should demand that it be allowed to form a Cabinet next month.

The first reason is to prevent the government from continuing to tread water.

After the nine-in-one elections in 2014, the KMT government has been practically sitting idle, hardly achieving anything. After the election, the Ma administration might lose any democratic legitimacy to make decisions on behalf of the nation.

If the administration insists on forming a Cabinet, its policy declaration to the legislature would hardly be meaningful.

The second reason is to prevent Ma from getting too aggressive.

Ma’s policies, such as the attempt to join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) in Singapore, the cross-strait trade in goods negotiations, the policy to ease the restrictions on hiring white-collar workers from abroad and the like show that Ma is steadily facilitating his own cross-strait agenda.

However, without the support of the Cabinet, these attempts can accomplish nothing.

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