The most urgent problem facing President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) following his party's thumping defeat in the Dec. 3 local elections is how to form a government that is capable of beating the deadlock in the legislature, political analysts said yesterday.
"No matter who heads the government, whether it be a coalition or a reorganized DPP government, the pan-blue alliance will still enjoy a legislative majority," political analyst Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) said.
"There is no doubt that Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) will continue the scorched-earth policy in blocking government bills. How to break through the legislative dilemma is the key," he said.
The legislature currently has 224 occupied seats, with the pan-blue coalition [the KMT and the People First Party (PFP)] holding 115 and the ruling DPP and its ally, the Taiwan Solidarity Union, taking up 100.
After the Dec. 3 polls, which saw four KMT legislators win local posts that will result in them vacating their seats, the pan-blue camp will only retain a majority of 111 out of the 220 seats.
Only one of the vacated seats meets the requirements for holding a by-election, but the pan-blues would still hold a majority even if they were to lose that seat.
Chen has been keeping a low profile since the polls. Although he acknowledged the election defeat in his weekly electronic newsletter, he didn't mention anything about how he intends to tackle the political fallout created by the dismal results.
Speculation is mounting that a Cabinet reshuffle may follow with pan-blue heavyweights being invited to take up posts, including Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and Ma, with the PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) replacing Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) as premier.
The Presidential Office, Executive Yuan and others concerned, however, have denied the speculation.
Hsu said yesterday that he does not think it would be a bad idea to recruit Wang to head the government nor would it be impossible for Wang to make the switch to the executive branch.
However, if Wang accepts the president's offer, he would have to quit his role as legislative speaker and run the risk of losing his position as a KMT legislator-at-large.
The issue is whether Ma would be willing to let Wang go and if not, whether Wang would disobey Ma and put his political career on the line and dedicate himself to a job which would disappear within a year or two.
The Dec. 3 polls -- Ma's first elections since taking the party's helm in August -- have boosted his self-confidence and political stature. They also proved that Ma can win an election without Wang's help.
Ma has made it clear that Chen will have to go through party-to-party negotiations if he wishes to form a coalition. In other words, no single KMT member would be allowed to join the DPP government without his consent.
Ma also dismissed the idea of a "coalition Cabinet" as "meaningless" and brushed aside speculation that he would head such a Cabinet, if it were to be formed.
If the president decides to team up with Soong, Hsu said that he must take into account Soong's declining political influence.
Soong is the leader of a diminishing political power. And his party is deeply divided over whether to go ahead and merge with the KMT.
PFP caucus whip Hwang Yih-jiau (黃義交) estimated that about 40 percent of the party's members are in favor of the merger, while 60 percent are against it, including PFP Vice Chairman Chang Chao-hsiung (張昭雄). Chang has said that he will quit politics for good if his party merges with the KMT.
Ku Chung-hwa (顧忠華), a political analyst at National Chengchi University, said that the KMT-PFP merger is the road that the smaller PFP has to take since the next legislative election will change to a "single-district, one vote," system in which one lawmaker will be elected from each constituency, compelling the two-parties to join forces.
Ku also cast doubt on the feasibility of a "coalition government," taking into account that there is no previous example to follow nor is such a concept stipulated in the Constitution.
Even if Soong or Wang follow Tang Fei (唐飛) and head the DPP government, it is not a "coalition government" per se as the new premier would be the only pan-blue member in the line up.
Such a government, Ku said, is bound to create more political problems and even constitutional disputes than it would resolve.
"At issue is who would be held responsible for the failure or success of government policies," he said. "Is it the DPP government or the party the new premier represents?"
Unless the president is certain that Hsieh's departure would bring more political leverage to the DPP, Ku said that it would be a far better idea to keep Hsieh.
Two lottery players recently won NT$1 million (US$31,822) prizes on scratch lotto tickets they purchased on the same day at the same store in Taipei’s Ximending (西門町) area. Taiwan Lottery Co said that the lotto wins both happened on “20 million Super Red Envelope” (2,000萬超級紅包) scratch cards sold at a shop on Kunming Street on the first day of the Lunar New Year holiday on Thursday last week. The first of the winners was a married couple, who first won NT$2,000 on a NT$300 scratch lotto card, and then used their winnings to buy a NT$2,000 Super Red Envelope. After noticing that there
CAMBODIAN CON: The two men filmed videos with made-up content with a focus on purported human trafficking, beatings and sexual assaults by scammers Cambodian authorities yesterday sentenced two Taiwanese to two years in prison and a NT$30,000 fine each for staging a kidnapping in the southern coastal city of Sihanoukville which they live streamed online. Chen Neng-chuan (陳能釧), 31, and Lu Tsu-hsien (魯祖顯), 34, were convicted of inciting and causing social disorder a day after Cambodian police officials convened a news conference about their arrest. Chen, who goes by the online name “Goodnight Chicken” (晚安小雞), and Lu, known by the handle “Anow” (阿鬧), must each pay 4 million riels (US$982), according to a court filing. The court said the duo arrived in the Cambodian capital, Phnom
TAKE PRECAUTIONS: Never hike alone and prepare food, water and appropriate equipment for Taiwan’s mountains, particularly in the winter, officials said Two mountain hikers were rescued yesterday, a day after a body was airlifted out of Yushan National Park, one of several deaths related to mountaineering or hiking in the past two weeks, the Ministry of the Interior said yesterday. A Nantou County mountain rescue team called for a helicopter while responding to a call yesterday morning. They said a woman surnamed Chen (陳), 31, and a man surnamed Lin (林), 32, got lost in the mountains around the Batongguan Historic Trail (八通關古道), while traveling west toward Dongpu Township (東埔). They were directed to a nearby alpine meadow, where the helicopter landed with four
National Taiwan University (NTU) was ranked in the 126-150 band in the Times Higher Education (THE) World Reputation Rankings 2023 released on Tuesday, falling for a third consecutive year. In the 2020 rankings, NTU took the 40th spot, improving significantly from the 51-60 band the previous year in its best ranking in past five years, THE data showed. However, since then the university’s ranking has dropped continuously, falling into the 61-70 band in 2021 and the 91-100 band in 2022. The list does not assign specific rankings to universities ranked outside the top 50. In 2020, three other Taiwanese universities were also listed in