Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The first female president

Within the next year, Taiwan's president, Chen Shui-bian, could step down--or, a lesser possibility, he could be recalled. It might happen tomorrow or next month or it might not happen at all. Much still has to play out in this politi-drama, the sequel to Clinton 1998.

Since last week, several opposition leaders have been calling for Chen to give up his position, or face a recall, because his son-in-law was recently arrested for an insider trading scandal. In fact, even though Chen hasn't been implicated in anything, scandal is the word of the day. You can read a simple run-down here (You can also listen to the longer piece by Caroline Gluck, who freelances for RTI and BBC. Just click next to the "Listen Now" sign on the top right of the RTI webpage. It's the 4th story).

The calls for Chen to step down will only grow louder. Some people are calling it a witch hunt.

As things stand, if no new variables enter the equation, Ma Ying-jeou, the mayor of Taipei and the head of the opposition KMT (formerly the only party in Taiwan), will likely win the 2008 presidential election.

Ma, as I understand it, is also liked in Beijing--he has traveled there to meet with Chinese leaders. He recently also traveled to the states, while Chen, Taiwan's democratically elected president, was refused entry.

If a recall of the president is indeed successfull, it would have damaging consequences for his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and almost certainly assure KMT control of the island.

However, and I say this as a fairly unbiased observer, if Chen can find the opportune moment to step down (I don't know if he would do that), it would be a historic moment, and in my view the best possibility for his party.

Vice President, Annette Lu, would become president (I'm not sure what would happen in the event of a recall, but it would draw out for a long time). She would be the first woman president in Taiwan's history. You can read this Time interview with her from April 2000, when she and Chen first came to power, here. Just to stoke your curiosity, the sub-heading of the interview reads: "Meet the woman Beijing recently labeled the 'scum of the nation.'" Caroline Gluck recently interviewed her as well.

We'll just have to wait and see what happens. Things could start to get very interesting here.

2 Comments:

Blogger Rob said...

Fascinating stuff! Is she less nationalistic thant he current occupant or likely opposition candidate? How does the PRC perceive her?

This might make a good cross posting for European Tribune.

12:48 AM  
Blogger Wulingren said...

The main division in Taiwan politics now--and this division pertains mainly to views about what Taiwan is and Taiwan's relation to China--is between green and blue.

Chen Shui-bian and Annette Lu come from the green camp, which is the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and its allies. They represent mainly the people whose families--not only of Chinese descent--were already on the island when the Kuomintang (KMT) arrived in the 40s. Their basic position is Taiwanese independence; it is a position that has grown out of their experience on the island--under Japanese rule, then under KMT martial law, and in recent years, in an emerging (actually, already quite) democratic society.

The blue camp is the KMT and its allies (or perhaps I should say, "splinter groups"). The KMT's original goal was to retake the mainland. They were fighting--and at that point losing--a civil war. They saw this island only as a base from which to keep up the attack. I have never met anyone who still has this goal.

Current blue views range from keeping the status quo to re-unification with China. I'm not sure exactly what Ma Ying-jeou's views on this are, though he strikes me as being very pragmatic, and perhaps more international than at least President Chen. For instance, he was born in Hong Kong and educated in the states. He has a law degree from Harvard, and I recently learned from someone who was his classmate, an MA from NYU. He is impressive, and yet, he doesn't seem to be well-liked by many Taiwanese I have talked to.

I think many green-leaning Taiwanese don't trust Ma, and are worried about what will happen if he becomes president. Someone said to me: "Things will change a lot." Ma promises peace with China, but people fear he will make too many concessions and Taiwan will be no more.

For Annette Lu's views, at least back in 2000, see the Time interview to which I linked.

6:23 AM  

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