Sun, Jul 01, 2018 - Page 6 News List

EDITORIAL: Parties must learn to cooperate

Amendments to the Air Pollution Control Act (空氣污染防制法), which passed a third reading on Monday, were criticized by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) as a political move ahead of the nine-in-one elections.

KMT criticism of bills put forward by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on issues on which the two parties have different platforms is to be expected — such as with the military pension reform bill passed on June 20.

However, opposition to an environmental protection bill is arguably protest for protest’s sake and demonstrates a fundamental inability of the nation’s two main parties to engage in bipartisanship.

Partisan politics are not uncommon in democracies with two major parties, and partisanship has historically defined the relationship between the UK’s Conservative Party and the Labour Party, and the US’ Democrats and Republicans. However, in the US there are also historical examples of the Democrats and Republicans cooperating, and both have at times held similar platforms on key issues.

An article on Web site The Atlantic on Aug. 27 last year argued that bipartisanship happens in the US when there is factionalism within one party, or when there are partisan incentives for cooperation with the opposition. The article cites the example of former US president Harry Truman, a Democrat who worked with the Republicans, many of whom at the time “did not want to be seen by voters as the way of liberal internationalism in the aftermath of World War II and the expansion of Soviet communism.”

Republicans also cooperated with former US president Lyndon Johnson in 1964 and 1965 to improve their standing in southern US states at a time when Democrat supporters there formed the majority opinion on civil rights issues, the article said.

By comparison, the KMT acts in blatant opposition to the will of the majority, criticizing President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) refusal to accept China’s “one China” principle and applying for a China travel permit for KMT Chairman Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) to meet with the Chinese Communist Party, at a time when Taiwanese see China as an antagonistic bully.

The KMT also regularly refuses to cooperate with the Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee when the public sees transitional justice efforts as a crucial part of advancing the nation’s democratization efforts.

Perhaps the two parties are fundamentally incompatible because the DPP and the KMT have different visions for the nation’s future and definitions of its sovereignty.

The DPP rose to power largely on its platform of seeking Taiwanese independence, and Premier William Lai (賴清德) on April 3 reiterated that position by calling himself a “Taiwan independence worker.”

The drop in the DPP’s popularity since Tsai took office might be partially rooted in Tsai’s failure to take more aggressive steps in that direction. However, as Brian Hioe wrote in an article for Web site New Bloom, the position within the DPP “would seem to be that pushing for Taiwanese independence is too dangerous and possibly disruptive of cross-strait relations.”

Tsai has expressed a desire to cooperate with China, but on Monday reiterated that the nation would not make concessions on its sovereignty and its democracy, saying: “In the face of China’s threats we feel the need for us to improve self-defense capabilities.”

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