Sun, Dec 19, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Negotiations make for strange bed fellows

NEW ALLIANCE?Before the legislative election, likelihood of the DPP and PFP working together was unthinkable. But now, a shaky alliance appears to be taking shape


The possibility of cooperation between the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the People First Party (PFP) emerged after the legislative elections, yet how far this unlikely alliance will go remains uncertain.

Before the election, it was unthinkable that the DPP and the PFP would consider joining forces, as the two caucuses disagreed with each other on almost everything. The PFP was also vocal in opposing the passage of the NT$610.8 billions arms procurement deal with the US.

Yet, as pressure for a pan-blue merger grew stronger leading up to the legislative elections -- with Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) stressing that merger plans had passed a point of no return -- PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) has since refused to meet with Lien and New Party Chairman Yok Mu-ming (郁慕明) to talk about the merger.

Now, after the legislative elections, Soong has refused to consider the possibility of the merger, and said that he did not want to go back to the KMT just to become a "number two."

"After this election, I have come to understand that the PFP has to rely on itself," Soong said one day after the legislative elections. He even accused the KMT of closing the door on negotiations.

With this increasing gap between the PFP and the KMT, the DPP has been given the chance to cut in and work to win the favor of PFP, especially in the next major battle -- the election of a new legislative speaker.

It would be difficult for the DPP to replace incumbent Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), but with a conflict within the pan-blue camp, what will happen in the speakership election on Feb. 1 next year is difficult to predict.

If the PFP and DPP cooperate in the election for legislative speaker, it would not be the first time that two parties on opposite side of the political spectrum worked together.

Back in 1996, the DPP worked with the New Party in the speakership election and almost won. DPP candidate Shih Ming-teh (施明德) lost to then incumbent Speaker Liu Sung-fan (劉松藩) by only one vote.

But back then, the DPP and the New Party were both opposition parties whose common enemy was the governing KMT.

At present, however, the DPP is in power, and the PFP and the KMT are the opposition parties whose supporters want the two parties to cooperate and merge.

Although the PFP said that it was impossible for the party to work with the DPP, and that "there might be greens turning into oranges, but not oranges into greens," cooperation between the two parties seems likely.

After an unsatisfactory performance in the legislative elections, in which the party lost over 10 seats -- one-fourth of their total number of seats in the Fifth Legislature -- the PFP now has to ensure that its smaller presence in the legislature can exercise maximum influence to gain leverage in negotiating with the KMT.

It has also been reported that DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) has been seeking support from PFP legislators in his campaign for the deputy speaker position, and that PFP caucus whip Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄) would not deny Ker's move. Liu said recently, however, that he had heard nothing about Ker's ambitions.

"The PFP has not discussed how to act with regard to the speakership election, but we will not take the initiative and nominate our own candidate and we will not work with the DPP," Liu said. "The PFP will play the role of a good opposition party," he added.

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