The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has criticized Democratic Progressive Party Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) dismissal of a shift to a parliamentary system of government, saying that she was once in favor of such a change and that her opposition now might be a political ploy.
When she was running for the DPP leadership last year, Tsai said that “I also support a switch from the presidential system or semi-presidential system to a parliamentary system,” KMT spokesman Yang Wei-chung (楊偉中) said on Tuesday.
The KMT criticism came a day after Tsai told a group of DPP lawmakers that “the parliamentary system is out of the question,” in her first declaration of her position on a KMT proposal to revise the Constitution to allow for such a system.
Tsai based her claim on what she said is mainstream public opinion in which the majority of the public prefers to directly vote for president.
However, Yang said that polls show that 60 to 70 percent of the public would support giving the power back to the legislature to approve the appointment of a premier nominated by the president, which is in the spirit of a parliamentary system.
He accused Tsai of giving greater weight to direct presidential elections than reinstating the legislature’s power to approve a premier appointed by the president.
Tsai’s claim also raises questions over whether “her political calculations supersede her ideals for constitutional reform,” Yang said.
Other critics said Tsai’s opposition stems from her confidence that she will win the next year’s presidential election and that her party will secure more power under the current system than under a parliamentary system.
KMT lawmakers announced on Friday last week a plan to revise the Constitution by giving lawmakers back the power to approve the president’s appointment of a premier as part of a shift toward the parliamentary system.
Taiwan has a semi-presidential system and the president names the premier without having to seek consent from the legislature.
The reforms were introduced amid complaints that the president does not have to answer to the legislature, while the premier must bear the brunt of opposition to major administration policies.
Another view is that the government system should be changed to one in which power is commensurate with responsibility and a parliamentary system is more in tune with such calls, Yang said.
If the DPP insists on opposing the KMT’s constitutional reform proposals, at least it should make a counterproposal, rather than focusing on calculating its political gains, he added.
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