Mon, Dec 13, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Next premier to face tough job

FIERCE RESISTANCE Whoever the president picks as the new premier will face a strengthened pan-blue majority -- and the possibility of a no-confidence vote

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

In keeping with tradition, the entire Executive Yuan led by Premier Yu Shyi-kun will resign together before newly elected legislators take their oaths of office on Feb. 1.

Following the pan-blue camp's victory in yesterday's legislative polls, the new premier is expected to encounter more vehement resistance from the opposition parties, which continue to take up more than half of the 225-seat lawmaking body.

Observers predicted that the odds of Yu's being re-appointed as premier are slim despite Yu's loyalty to President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and determination to carry out Chen's policies.

Political columnist Hu Wen-huei (胡文輝) said that it is likely that President Chen will nominate someone who has an economic background and more neutral attributes.

"I suspect Yu will be out of the picture, leaving Vice President Annette Lu, Presidential Office Secretary-General Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and Kaohsiung City Mayor Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) to be the three formidable competitors to succeed Chen," he said.

While Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) proposed in the legislative campaign that the pan-blue camp would form a new Cabinet if they won the elections, Hu said that such a scenario is unlikely to happen.

"Unless they have the guts to cast a no-confidence vote against the new premier, it's highly improbable that the pan-blue camp will get its wish to form a new government," Hu said. "Then again, if it dares to do so, it will have to face resistance from the newly elected legislature and the subsequent consequences."

According to the 1997 additional articles to the Constitution, the premier is directly appointed by the head of state without obtaining the consent of the Legislative Yuan. The legislature has the power to pass a no-confidence vote against the premier, but the head of state also has the power to dissolve the legislature.

Wang Yeh-li (王業立), a political science professor at Tunghai University, said that the final choice for premier will have to do with what function President Chen aspires the person to perform.

If Chen wants the new premier to be merely his policy executor, Wang observed, the person must be obedient, loyal and not threatening to Chen's political stature. If Chen wants the new premier to become his future successor, Wang said that it will be a different story.

No matter who the new premier is, Wang said the position will be more difficult because the pan-blue camp still dominates the new legislative body.

Tsai Tzung-jen (蔡宗珍), an associate professor of law at National Taiwan University, said that she believes the key issue is not who will become the next premier, but rather who can carry out Chen's policies in the face of an opposition-controlled legislature.

"To appoint someone loyal to President Chen is mutually beneficial for both him and the new premier," she said. "The new premier will need the full support of Chen, while Chen needs the new premier to carry out his will."

While President Chen has been talking about stepping down from the party chairmanship, Tsai said that it seemed unlikely Chen will relinquish control. He has publicly asked the electorate to give him two more years to prove that he can turn things around, she said.

Commenting on the possibility of the KMT's proposal to form a new Cabinet after the election, Wang said that Lien has every right to ask President to take him or his hand-picked recommended candidate Deputy Legislative Speaker Chiang Pin-kun (江丙坤) into consideration as a potential candidate for the premiership.

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