In the elections in January next year, the public will be casting their votes for the president and legislators. Of course, it is expected that people’s focus will be on the next president, but the public is not only electing the national leader and their running mate; also they will be electing a governing team that will lead Taiwan for the next four years.
Despite much bad humor and stalled talks, the “blue-white alliance” finally had a breakthrough with former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) as a witness. The two parties finally agreed to a poll selection to decide whether Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) or New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜), the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) presidential candidate, would run for president with the other as his running mate. The two parties want to form a coalition government.
As Taiwan has never had a coalition government before, this is an unsettling possibility. If the Hou-Ko ticket is voted into office, it would mean that the president and vice president are not of the same party, while the heads of major offices would also be appointed by different parties. This would cause confusion and perplexity since there is no single leader and would complicate the issue of political responsibility.
During his first presidential term, former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) also tried pushing for a coalition government by inviting Tang Fei (唐飛) of the KMT to be his premier and Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) to be the minister of the environment. However, both Tang and Hau joined the Cabinet as individuals, not as recommendations by the KMT. Even so, they left their positions before long. As a result, the idea of a coalition government is not realistic and could pose further problems.
Even within the same party, there are competing factions that often lead to discord or quarrels, but there is a party chairperson to decide and resolve conflicts. In the case of a coalition government, if Cabinet members of different parties come into conflict, which party chairperson would be the adjudicator? Even the president cannot have a say on the matter, because Cabinet members’ power does not come from the Cabinet leader or the president.
One case in point being Ko, who said in a TV interview that if the Hou-Ko ticket triumphs in the end, he would do his best to “oversee” Hou and the KMT. A vice president who supervises the president? Now that would be a first in politics.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Vice President William Lai (賴清德) said that next year’s election is a choice between democracy and autocracy. This means that if people decide to cast their votes for pro-China parties, it would be choosing a pivot to autocracy over democracy, values that most Taiwanese do not endorse. If the Hou-Ko ticket comes to pass, the result would be a choice between a single, well-ordered government, and a chaotic, coalition government. The public will have to draw upon their wisdom to make the right choice.
Chen Wen-ching works in environmental services.
Translated by Rita Wang
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