Wed, Jun 08, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Pan-blue minnows struggle to redefine their existence

MARGINAL IDENTITY The People First Party must now combat its own irrelevance in the new political system, and it will be looking for more success than the New Party

By Caroline Hong  /  STAFF REPORTER

With small political parties facing significant marginalization with the coming two-party system, the smaller parties in the pan-blue camp yesterday said that it would take time for pan-blue unity to re-emerge, perhaps with the mayoral and county commissioner elections at the end of the year.

The pan-blue People First Party (PFP) and New Party were against the constitutional amendments that downsized the legislature, while the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) joined the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in a strange partnership to seal passage of the amendment package.

"From the constitutional amendments package, you can see that the KMT and the DPP, the two large parties, are planning to suppress the other small parties. If the `single member, two vote' amendment goes through, then the existence of the small parties will be threatened," New Party National Assembly delegate Lu Ray-chong (盧瑞鐘) told the assembly at the Chungshan Building on Monday.

"The survival of representatives representing the far right and far left will not be easy, and the political situation will become chaotic as more people choose to protest from outside the system," Lu said.

Given the difficulties facing minor parties in a two-party system, one question on everyone's mind has been whether or not the changes will reactivate talks of a merger between the PFP, the New Party and the KMT, or whether they will push the PFP toward the pan-green camp.

While it may seem a logical choice for the New Party and the PFP to work with its larger pan-blue ally, the PFP insists that it will go down its own road, no matter what happens.

"The PFP's direction and position will not change," PFP legislative caucus whip Chen Chih-pin (陳志彬) said yesterday.

While the party will continue to stand by the 10-point agreement it reached with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) in February, it will also explore cooperation with the KMT in the upcoming elections, owing to the parties' traditionally overlapping voter bases.

The PFP was burned by its experience working with the KMT in December's legislative elections, leading PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) to launch public tirades against the KMT with words such as "faithless" and to say that the thought of returning to the KMT gave him "goosebumps."

Yet Chen Chih-pin said yesterday that the party would again try to work with the KMT in the year-end elections.

"This year's elections will serve as a model and a test for future KMT-PFP cooperation," he said.

When asked what his party would do if it found collaboration with the KMT to be unsatisfactory, Chen would say only that the party would reconsider its options.

There was still time to see how the situation unfolds, Chen said.

However, he stressed that "it is impossible for the PFP to ally with the pan-green camp."

In an interview with the Taipei Times yesterday, KMT caucus whip Cho Po-yuan (卓伯源) echoed Chen's cautiousness, while expressing optimism about the chances of long-term KMT-PFP collaboration.

"The PFP has its origins in the KMT. Many of its goals and much of its direction are the same as the KMT, and there should be a great deal of room for cooperation," he said.

When asked about Soong's comments that suggested he had a different view, Cho would only say that it was understandable for different opinions to exist within the PFP's ranks.

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