The legislature is likely to vote on Saturday on a no-confidence motion against Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) initiated by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU), which accuses him of incompetence in leading the Cabinet.
On the first day of the second session of the Eighth Legislature yesterday, the DPP and TSU demanded that Ma name a new premier.
It is unlikely that the DPP-TSU motion will succeed, as they together hold only 43 seats, far short of the required threshold of half of the 113 lawmakers needed to pass a proposal to topple Chen.
The People First Party (PFP) is not supporting the motion.
In its proposal, the DPP and the TSU listed 10 reasons why Chen should be removed, saying that he has failed to exert the authority the Constitution confers on the premier to lead the Cabinet, but has instead acted as a “puppet” of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).
Chen was scheduled to present a policy speech to the legislature in the interpolation session yesterday. With the motion tabled, the session was called off.
“Replace the Cabinet to rescue the economy. Replace the Cabinet to salvage Taiwan,” pan-green lawmakers’ chants and banners on the floor said.
The Executive Yuan is the highest administrative branch of the country, as stipulated in Article 57 of the Constitution, but the Chen Cabinet is completely dominated by Ma, with Cabinet agencies reporting directly to Ma, not Chen, and the Cabinet is deprived of its power to make decisions on policy, the DPP-TSU proposal says.
“The Sean Chen Cabinet is a puppet Cabinet, the weakest in history,” DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said.
In accordance with Article 3 of the Additional Articles of the Constitution and Article 37 of the Act Governing Exercise of Rights of the Legislative Yuan (立法院職權行使法), which stipulates that 72 hours after a no-confidence motion is made, an open-ballot vote must be taken within 48 hours, lawmakers scheduled a vote on the matter for 10am on Saturday.
The last time a vote of no-confidence against a premier was held was in 1999, when the opposition parties, the DPP and the New Party, were dissatisfied with then-premier Vincent Siew’s (蕭萬長) handling of a financial crisis and the kidnapping and murder of Pai Hsiao-yen (白曉燕).
PFP caucus whip Thomas Lee (李桐豪) said the party did not sponsor the motion because “no-confidence votes should be a last resort,” adding that “incompetent” Cabinet officials should be replaced first.
However, Lee said Chen should know that it was time for him to leave if the Cabinet fails to bring down the consumer price index, which rose to 3.42 percent last month from a year ago, to below 2 percent, and the unemployment rate for people aged between 15 and 24 from 12.22 percent this month to 9 percent.
KMT caucus whip Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) said the KMT administration was not afraid of the no-confidence vote because “it has no chance of passing.”