The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won a legislative majority in yesterday’s election, securing 68 seats in the 113-seat legislature. With its ally the New Power Party (NPP) winning five legislative seats, the DPP is expected to enjoy unrestricted power in the parliament.
Before the elections, the DPP had called on voters to cast their legislative ballots for the party’s candidates to help it secure a majority in the legislature without the NPP’s assistance.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), which held 64 legislative seats before the election, hoped to secure at least 38 seats to prevent the majority party or alliance to motion for a recall of the president, which can be done with a two-thirds majority in the legislature. The DPP got what it wanted, but not the KMT.
Graphic: Louise Ting, Taipei Times
DPP president-elect Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) “coattail effect” has helped the party sweep legislative votes.
However, the real force that carried the opposition parties to victory is probably the “awakened youth,” who have been calling for the removal of the KMT from government since 2014’s Sunflower movement.
The NPP, which was established in the movement’s wake, fielded three political novices in the election — a leading activist in the Sunflower movement, a famous metal singer and a victim-turned symbol of nationwide demonstrations against abuse in the military — as its regional legislative candidates. All three got elected, defeating three veteran KMT lawmakers.
Photo: Chang Chung-yi, Taipei Times
However, while the NPP has won representation in the legislature as expected, the 5 percent threshold has proved to be a hurdle for other small parties, such as the Green Party-Social Democratic Party Alliance, the Republican Party and the Faith and Hope League, which are among parties that were established following the Sunflower movement.
The Taiwan Solidarity Union, which had three seats in the 2012 legislature, failed to cross the 5 percent threshold this time. The rise of the NPP was definitely a factor, but its decision to team up with Le Flanc Radical, a Taiwan-independence group consisting of young people, has been considered a move that came too late to garner young votes.
The People First Party’s (PFP) crossing the threshold might be seen as a coattail effect of its party chairman and presidential candidate James Soong (宋楚瑜). It was said that Soong’s bid, which was his third, was a ploy to campaign for party votes. It remains to be seen how the PFP would retain its so-called “non-blue, non-green and middle way” in a pan-green parliament.
The New Party, which received tacit support from Deputy Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) of the KMT and other KMT members who were dissatisfied with the party’s at-large legislative candidate list, made gains, winning more than 4 percent of party votes, while having only won 1.49 percent of the votes in 2012.
With the KMT’s rout, the distribution of the political power within the KMT and the pan-blue camp as a whole would be followed closely.
An interesting point raised by commentators is how the forced apology of Korean pop music group member Chou Tzu-yu (周子瑜) affected young voters and the elections’ outcome. It has been said that many young people decided to vote after the incident, in defiance of pressure from China. The DPP’s victory, in terms of its gains in party votes compared with what was expected, is said to be an outcome of the incident.
The KMT had secured 64 seats in a 113-seat legislature in 2012, while the DPP had 40 seats, the Taiwan Solidarity Union and the PFP each had 3, the Non-Partisan Solidarity Union had 2 and independents, 4.
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