Tsai backpedalling on re­form prom­ises: KMT


Kuom­intang ( KMT) politi­cians fired back at the op­po­si­tion Demo­cratic Pro­gres­sive Party on the is­sue of re­form­ing the na­tion’s semi-pres­i­den­tial sys­tem and in­tro­duc­ing a par­lia­men­tary sys­tem, yes­ter­day. Re­spond­ing to Demo­cratic Pro­gres­sive Party Chair­woman Tsai Ing-wen’s (

) re­marks Mon­day that “a par­lia­men­tary sys­tem has no space to ex­ist,” KMT Chair­man Eric Chu ( ) said that con­sti­tu­tional re­form should not be held ran­som to the in­ter­ests of one in­di­vid­ual or po­lit­i­cal party.

Chu and the KMT have ad­vo­cated a tran­si­tion to a par­lia­men­tary sys­tem and the restora­tion of the Leg­is­la­ture’s power to vote on the ap­point­ment of a pre­mier (

), a power that was scrapped by the KMT in 1997.

KMT spokesman Yang We­ichung ( ) ac­cused Tsai of backpedalling on com­ments she made dur­ing the 2014 year-end elec­tions. Tsai was quoted by Yang as say­ing: “I very much ap­prove of a tran­si­tion from a pres­i­den­tial or semi-pres­i­den­tial sys­tem of two heads of state, to a par­lia­men­tary sys­tem.” Yang ac­cused Tsai of equat­ing popular sup­port for a di­rectly elected pres­i­dent with the nega­tion of re­quired par­lia­ment­cen­tered re­forms.

Yang said that Tsai’s grav­i­ta­tion to­ward hav­ing a di­rectly elected pres­i­dent is due to high public opin­ion, but be­lies the fact that there is 60 to 70 per­cent sup­port for the restora­tion of leg­isla­tive ap­proval on the ap­point­ment of a pre­mier.

Mean­while DPP spokesman Cheng Yun-peng ( ) re­sponded by la­bel­ing the KMT’s com­ments as “po­lit­i­cal cal­cu­la­tion.” Cheng at­tempted to con­tex­tu­al­ize Tsai’s elec­tion-time re­marks sup­port­ing a par­lia­men­tary sys­tem, say­ing that Tsai did not ad­vo­cate such a sys­tem. Cheng said that Tsai had agreed with her op­po­nent in a po­lit­i­cal de­bate last year that “mov­ing from a pres­i­den­tial or sys­tem of two heads of state to a par­lia­men­tary sys­tem is a mas­sive un­der­tak­ing that will re­quire much time to take care of.” He equated KMT sup­port for a par­lia­men­tary sys­tem with its dra­matic elec­tion de­feats in 2014 and re­sult­ing at­tempts to con­sol­i­date its re­main­ing power.

Cheng added that con­sti­tu­tional re­form rep­re­sented a ma­jor is­sue for the coun­try that re­quired prag­ma­tism and ex­pe­ri­ence of living un­der con­sti­tu­tional gov­er­nance and a demo­cratic cul­ture. He ex­plained away the pop­u­lar­ity of par­lia­men­tary sys­tems in con­ti­nen­tal Europe as be­ing due to the preva­lence of con­sti­tu­tional monar­chies there. The ex­is­tence of par­lia­ments that are more im­por­tant than di­rectly elected lead­ers is dif­fer­ent from Tai­wan’s ex­pe­ri­ence.

Cheng re­it­er­ated his party’s po­si­tion of in­creas­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the Leg­isla­tive Yuan and in­creas­ing civic par­tic­i­pa­tion in the process of con­sti­tu­tional re­form. Ac­cord­ing to a Mon­day press re­lease, the DPP ad­vo­cates low­er­ing the thresh­old for a party to win rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the Leg­is­la­ture from the cur­rent five per­cent to three per­cent of to­tal votes cast.

Cur­rently, the KMT and DPP agree lit­tle on the ex­tent and pri­or­i­ties of con­sti­tu­tional re­form other than low­er­ing the legal vot­ing age to 18 and in­creas­ing the num­ber of leg­isla­tive seats.

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