Calling the Cabinet’s overall performance “intolerable,” the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus yesterday said it intended to propose a no-confidence motion against the Cabinet on the first day of the new legislative session today, despite a government announcement that it would suspend an electricity price increase planned for December.
The DPP is looking at the proposal from a broader perspective and its move constitutes “an attempt to hold the Cabinet accountable for its poor performance and — most importantly — an effort to avoid a constitutional crisis because it was President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), rather than Premier Sean Chen (陳冲), who had dominated every aspect of policymaking,” DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said after a caucus meeting.
While the Constitution of the Republic of China stipulates that “the Executive Yuan shall be the highest administrative organ of the State,” it had been Ma who had been deciding on policies and government personnel, not Chen, Ker said.
“[The motion] is not a power struggle between the pan-green and the pan-blue camps. Instead, it is a showdown between the people’s voice and Ma’s authority,” Ker said.
DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) attended the meeting and endorsed the motion, saying: “Taiwan’s economy can be saved only by replacing the current Cabinet because the administration is clueless and taken the country down the wrong path.”
The Chen-led Cabinet, which has previously boasted that it is an “economic Cabinet” that understands what is needed to revive the stagnant economy, has disappointed the public, Su said.
The Executive Yuan’s announcement of the suspension of a planned second-stage electricity price increase is likely “a political measure to placate the DPP’s no-confidence motion,” DPP Legislator Pan Men-an (潘孟安) said.
Pan said the government decided to postpone the planned hike until October next year rather than cancel it altogether, which means that the plan could be suddenly reinstated if the recent third round of quantitative easing announced by the US Federal Reserve stirs up global inflation.
The DPP knows that the vote against the premier might fail to pass.
While collecting the required signatures of more than one-third of the total number of legislators to submit the proposal would be easy, the hard part will be ensuring that at least half the lawmakers vote to allow the proposal to pass.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) controls 64 of the 113 seats in the legislature. The DPP currently has 40 seats.
“We think proposing the vote of no confidence is imperative. If it fails to pass, that means the KMT values its party position and benefits more than people’s voice,” DPP Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said.
According to Article 3 of the Additional Articles of the Constitution, 72 hours after a no-confidence motion is proposed, an open-ballot vote must be held within 48 hours.
As the second legislative session of the eighth Legislative Yuan begins today, the open-ballot vote would have to take place no later than Saturday.