The ruling and opposition camps on Thursday finally reached an agreement to pass a referendum law before the end of this month following a turnaround in which the pan-blue Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and People First Party (PFP) agreed to stop insisting on several limitations on the referendum law.
However, despite the timetable and agenda having been set for the negotiations, political observers remain skeptical about the pan-blue alliance's sincerity in truly supporting a referendum law.
On Thursday, ruling and opposition lawmakers agreed to review a total of five draft versions of the referendum law at a two-day special cross-party consultation session starting Nov. 26.
The pan-blue alliance has stopped insisting on restrictions on topics for a referendum, including the controversial sovereignty issue, which the KMT and PFP have previously insisted must not be allowed to be voted on by referendum.
However, despite the initial consensus on the timetable for passing a referendum law, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the initiator of the referendum legislation, and the opposition parties disagree on various issues concerning the content of the law, including whether the government could be authorized to propose a referendum and whether a referendum could be held to coincide with the presidential election.
DPP legislator Lin Cho-shui (林濁水) yesterday said the pan-blue alliance has been capricious in its stance towards the referendum, having initially called the referendum a drastic measure to push for Taiwanese independence, to its current attitude in which it said the referendum and Taiwanese independence are not necessarily related.
"The KMT and PFP's confusing stance resulted from a lack of core values. Their current priority is to win the presidential seat, but they have no clue about how a referendum should operate even if the law is passed and they win administrative power next year," Lin said.
Political analyst Chiu Hei-yuan (
"The KMT and PFP's high-ranking officials realized that it would be bad for their public support if they maintained resistance to referendum legislation, so they simply countered by opening the sovereignty issue for a referendum," Chiu said.
Chiu called the pan-blue camp's change of attitude an "insincere trick" and "a low strategy."
"The pan-blue camp has never seriously thought about the importance of a referendum and has always rejected it due to their long-term fear of the unwanted result that a referendum would provide a legal basis for the public to decide on Taiwan's claims of independence. In their mind, a referendum equals Taiwan's independence," Chiu said.
If the pan-blue politicians thought they could gain an edge in the presidential campaign by agreeing to pass the referendum law, they were wrong.
"They have already lost this part of the game, now they only wish to not lose more," Chiu said.
Editor-in-chief of Contemporary Magazine, Chin Heng-wei (