Wed, Sep 06, 2017 - Page 3 News List

ANALYSIS: Lin’s departure aimed at midterm polls

ELECTIONS:The chairman of the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation said the public has been critical of most of the major policies that Lin Chuan introduced

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

Lin distanced himself from DPP factions after the collapse of a subgroup loyal to former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who brought Lin into politics, resulting in the premier fighting a lone and uphill battle, National Sun Yat-sen University political science professor Liao Da-chi (廖達琪) said.

His “apolitical” character had worried city and county-level DPP politicians who have next year’s elections in mind, which contributed to the Cabinet reshuffle, Liao said.

Meanwhile, Tsai’s appointment of Lai as to be premier was aimed not only at regaining public support, but preempting a possible bid by Lai for the 2020 presidential election.

A Cabinet led by Lai is seen as an “election Cabinet” to lead the DPP administration through next year’s midterm elections, but observers said he is likely to face many challenges especially in terms of his interactions with Tsai.

One priority would appear to be revising the oft criticized new workweek policy to minimize its consequences on next year’s polls, and Lai said in a radio interview in July that a revision would be necessary as he had heard many businesses complaining about the policy.

Lai will have to come up with solutions to the problems with the national power grid in the wake of blackouts nationwide that occurred on Aug. 15, as well as more pension plan and tax reforms, the execution of the Forward-looking program’s budgets and legislation to legalize same-sex marriage.

Cross-strait relations, although not usually seen as within a premier’s purview, could also pose a challenge for Lai, who has recently talked about “building affinity with China while loving Taiwan,” even though he is usually considered pro-Taiwan independence.

His interactions with Tsai will be key to the success of his Cabinet.

“Under the current system, the premier is like the secretary-general of the president, and it has been the fate of premiers to be a presidential scapegoat,” Liao said.

While Lin complied with most of Tsai’s instructions, Lai is apparently not a complying type, and conflicts between the Presidential Office and the Executive Yuan could be likely, Liao said.

The potential discord between Tsai and Lai, coupled with the hostility against Lai’s New Tide faction in the DPP, could also lead to frictions between the Cabinet and Legislative Yuan, she said.

A possible solution lies in Tsai’s hands if she would be willing to restrict her role to strictly constitutional presidential powers — national defense, foreign relations and cross-strait relations — and hand over domestic administration to Lai, You said.

Should Tsai refuse to soften her grip on the Cabinet, Lai is going to have to make a good use of his political skills to gain more autonomy in decisionmaking, You said.

“He cannot simply be a ‘yes man,’ which would spell his doom,” You said.

Lai’s interaction with the legislature is also going to be important.

Lai, a physician-turned-politician has been known for a dominant leadership style.

He stood up to the Tainan City Council for almost seven months in 2015, refusing to appear at council meetings while then-council speaker Lee Chuan-chiao’s (李全教) was facing bribery charges.

Lai will not be able to bridge the gap between the Executive Yuan and the legislature without toning down his hardline stance, Liao said.

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