Mon, Jan 10, 2005 - Page 3 News List

DPP-PFP coalition seems inevitable

SPECULATION If the DPP does not cooperate with the PFP, it would face another lackluster four years in office without legislative results, political observers are saying

By Caroline Hong and Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Reports that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is hoping to form a coalition with its erstwhile rival, the People First Party (PFP), have been circulating lately, with the DPP expressing optimism that it will be able to add the PFP's 34 legislative seats to the 101 the pan-green camp won in last month's legislative elections.

Since PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) threw open the doors to cooperation two weeks ago, the DPP has been described as actively paving the way with under-the-table offers of power to Soong.

DPP Legislator Lee Wen-chung (李文忠) has suggested that his party either abolish or revise its stance on independence to facilitate cooperation with the PFP.

Revising the party's approach to independence would just reflect the reality of the DPP's political situation, especially seen in the light of the party's 1999 "Resolution on Taiwan's Future," Lee told the Taipei Times yesterday.

While the Taiwan independence issue is still a potential barrier to the formation of a DPP-PFP coalition, the DPP should take the first step and revise its party platform to reflect the reality, Lee said.

Lee said the DPP's supporters are sure to understand the needs of the current political situation.

"What the DPP's supporters care about most is the DPP's support for an independent nation -- in other words, the current situation of Taiwan -- but not necessarily a `Taiwan Republic,'" Lee said.

Those supporting a "Taiwan Republic" constitute only about one-third of the party's supporters, Lee said.

Most of the DPP's supporters will understand that the party is not seeking to compromise its beliefs, but to further the future of the country by resolving the political stalemate that has been in place in the legislature for the past four years as a result of cooperation between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the PFP, he added.

However, the PFP's supporters may not be so forgiving if their party should choose to ally itself with the DPP, especially if it maintains its current stance, Lee said.

As a result, both the DPP and the PFP should take steps towards cooperation, first by the DPP relinquishing its "Taiwan independence clause," and second by the PFP dropping its "one China" principle.

The PFP's support is crucial to the DPP, Lee said.

In reality, the KMT is an unlikely target for cooperation, given its position as the DPP's major rival in Taiwan's largely bipartisan system. Furthermore, there are not enough independents to give the DPP the majority it needs to push through legislation, Lee said.

While Lee's suggestions have been met with severe criticism from party leaders and other members, rumors have been circulating that the DPP has extended open invitations of cooperation to the PFP.

In addition to reports that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) has offered Soong a position as premier or vice premier, there are rumors that the DPP offered to make Soong the head of a Cabinet-backed cross-strait peace committee.

The DPP's legislative caucus even suggested last week that Soong could become the next head of the Straits Exchange Foundation, following the death last Monday of its chairman, Koo Chen-fu (辜振甫).

With the possible exception of Lee, the DPP seems optimistic that the PFP will come around, even without the DPP making a major ideological change.

DPP caucus whip Lee Chun-yee (李俊毅) said that after the legislative elections the public was hoping for reconciliation among the parties, and that the PFP's change of attitude was reflecting public opinion.

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