Mon, Jan 14, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Election fallout: ANALYSIS: Oversight needed to check KMT power

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Given the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) landslide victory in Saturday's legislative poll, the public needs to form a sound mechanism of oversight to check the power of the party within the legislature, political analysts and civil societies said yesterday.

The KMT secured an overwhelming majority in the first legislative poll under the new "single district, two-vote system."

It won 57 of the 73 district seats, four out of the six Aboriginal seats and 20 of the 34 legislator-at-large seats.

The victory means that the KMT, along with the three seats secured by the Non-Partisan Solidarity Union (NPSU) -- which is on friendly terms with the KMT -- and one seat by the People First Party (PFP), now occupies three quarters of the legislature's 113 seats, while the DPP, which previously accounted for 89 of the former 217-seat legislature, only managed to win 27 this time.

The absolute majority the KMT enjoys will give it the power to initiate a proposal and pass a resolution to impeach the president.

With its two-thirds majority, it can also recall the president.

With the help of NPSU and PFP legislators, it has the authority to put constitutional amendments to a referendum.

The victory also means that the pan-blue camp could constitute a majority of each of the legislature's eight standing committees.

The number of committees was reduced from 13 to eight last year in preparation for the halving of seats, with each lawmaker only getting to participate in one committee. Each committee should consist of nine to 15 members.

The number of caucuses will decrease from five to three, with the three NPSU legislators also able to organize one caucus.

Ho Tsung-hsun (何宗勳), chief executive officer of Citizen Watch, a civil organization that monitors the legislature, said the result of the legislative poll had turned the KMT into the only major power in the congress.

"Not only did the so-called `third force' disappear [after the poll] but we also lack a second largest force [in the legislature]," Ho said.

Ho said it may be "exaggerated" to compare the results to the monopoly the KMT enjoyed in the 1990s, but the party now does have the power to determine the fate of all bills.

"We are worried that the KMT will propose bills to benefit itself between March 22 [the presidential poll] and May 20 [presidential inauguration]," he said.

George Tsai (蔡瑋), a professor at Chinese Culture University's Sun Yat-sen Graduate Institute, expressed similar views.

Tsai told the Taipei Times that even though there remained three caucuses -- the KMT, the DPP and the NPSU -- in the Legislative Yuan, he did not think there would be sufficient checks and balances between them.

Taipei University political analyst Herman Chiang (江岷欽) described the NPSU caucus as a group that can only "remind" rather than "constrain" the KMT, given the wide gap between their strength.

"The NPSU can best serve as a brake" when the KMT is pushing its own agenda in the legislature, Chiang said.

He said that the NPSU would only be able to block KMT proposals during the legislature's four-month cross-party negotiation period for controversial bills.

He said that now that it enjoys an absolute majority the KMT was likely to put bills it favors to a vote once the negotiation period is over.

However, he said the NPSU can still play a key role in the legislature if it can offer a different voice from the KMT and the DPP.

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