President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday attributed his re-election to an upsurge of "local awareness," saying that his "one country on each side" of the Taiwan Strait approach has become the mainstream view in Taiwanese society.
The Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) next goal is to gain a majority of seats in the Legislative Yuan after the legislative elections at the end of the year, Chen said on Thursday in an interview with Japan's Daily Yomiuri newspaper. The interview was published yesterday.
"The opposition parties' continual protests since their failure in the presidential election will help the DPP to realize this goal," he was quoted as saying.
Chen said that a "Taiwanese awareness" means to "protect Taiwan against China" and that it was almost impossible for Tai-wanese to accept Beijing's "one country, two systems" policy, which has been proved to be a failure by events in Hong Kong.
He said that the Beijing leadership is extremely afraid that Taiwan's democratic development might further affect Hong Kong, as well as China itself.
Chen said his inauguration speech on May 20 will propose a new vision for cross-strait relations, based on the promises he made four years ago.
He also confirmed his intention to hold a national referendum in 2006 about passing a new constitution, which would be implemented in 2008.
The US government has expressed serious concerns about Chen's plans for a new constitution, which the foreign media has described as a concrete move toward Taiwanese independence. According to Chen, a new constitution would be an important mechanism to counter China's military threats.
He said that the new constitution would legislate a government with three branches, to replace the current five.
It would also expand presidential power and halve the number of legislative seats.
"The establishment of a new constitution is a reform for democracy, not a timetable for the independence of Taiwan," Chen told the Daily Yomiuri.
The newspaper said that Chen's next step on the road to constitutional reform would be to gain a DPP majority in the 225-seat Legislative Yuan.
On the subject of the election eve assassination attempt, Chen said that the incident was the result of many coincidences and accidental elements.
"I don't believe that the assassination attempt would have a negative effect on Taiwan's democracy," Chen said.
He urged the people of Taiwan to accept the result of the election and understand the importance of being united.
"Even if the difference between candidates is just one vote, the winner is still the winner. That is the real meaning of the democracy," Chen said.
In response to a question about the nation's first national referendum, which failed to get the required number of votes to make it valid, Chen said that the experience was still very successful.
"Many people thought that the referendum represented Taiwanese independence and would just lead to war and disaster, and these speculations have now been shown to be false," he said.
He said that holding the referendum had been a hard-won battle against China's threats and international criticism.
"I believe that referendums will gradually become part of common life," Chen said.