Sun, Jan 08, 2012 - Page 1 News List

2012 ELECTIONS: Tsai planning grand coalition to end divisions

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter, in Greater Tainan

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) proposal to form a coalition government if elected has sparked debate as the DPP yesterday said such a move would be Tsai’s solution to help end the nation’s political divide.

The DPP chairperson made the statement in the last of the three televised policy platform presentations on Friday evening, saying that if she is elected, her new administration would include people from a variety of parties and groups in accordance with the principle of consociational democracy and the idea of a grand coalition government.

However, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who is seeking re-election, and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) ridiculed Tsai’s initiative, saying it was only talk.

Tsai did not elaborate on the proposal during her campaign trip to the south yesterday, instead leaving the task to her spokesperson.

According to DPP spokesperson Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁), Tsai has been deliberating the idea with her aides for a long time as she thinks Taiwan would be able to learn from democracies in Western Europe.

Her initiative is simple, Chen said, “regardless of whether the DPP wins a majority in the legislature, her administration would include qualified politicians from various parties.”

Tsai advocated a grand coalition government, not a coalition government, he said.

A grand coalition government, in Tsai’s mind, would aim to formulate consensus through multi-channel and multi-layered dialogues, Chen said, while a coalition government either seeks to establish a coalition Cabinet supported by a legislative majority or a minority Cabinet with members from several parties.

The key spirit of a grand coalition government is a consensus-building process, Chen said.

Chen added that Tsai’s proposal is very different from the case of Tang Fei (唐飛), a retired general and KMT member who was named in 2000 by then-president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) as the first premier of the DPP administration.

Chen Shui-bian’s intention to work with the KMT through the nomination of Tang eventually failed because the KMT intended to monopolize the entire administrative branch, Chen Chi-mai said.

If elected, Tsai planned to make use of three levels of dialogue: administrative to legislative, government to society and party to party, Chen Chi-mai said.

Speaking at a press conference after the televised presentations on Friday night, Tsai said Taiwan must move in the direction of a consociational democracy because political dueling over the past two decades has consumed too much energy and left people weary.

A consociational democracy is also important for Taiwan given that serious societal divisions have hampered the country’s development on many fronts, Tsai said.

A coalition government is more suitable for countries with a parliamentary system, she said, which is why a country with a presidential government, such as Taiwan, should not replicate the idea.

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