International media notices Taiwan (Update)
Jane Rickards, writing for the Washington Post, weighs in on the Chen saga:
China has refused to deal with Chen, an ardent champion of formal independence for Taiwan, and Chen did not say what he would do to change that. As for healing the political rifts within Taiwan, opposition leaders appeared intent instead on making Chen pay the full price for the alleged irregularities by his family and aides, particularly with presidential elections on the horizon in 2008.UPDATE: Michael has some comments on whether the recall really was a "small success" for Ma or his party (I shouldn't have to write this, but everything after the colon is quoted material):
Ma, the likely Nationalist Party candidate in 2008, acknowledged that the recall had failed but claimed a small victory, saying no one cast a vote against the motion. The 88 legislators from Chen's Democratic Progressive Party boycotted the proceedings, which were held as 5,000 police officers and hundreds of soldiers manned barricades outside the legislature to prevent violence among opposing camps of demonstrators.
Speaking from the perspective of foreigners who know a little about Taiwan, Ma has certainly looked awful, allowing events to dictate to him rather than dictating to them, and flip-flopping on many important issues. Ma has also suffered a major blow as James Soong, Chairman of the rival PFP party and personal rival of Ma, has revived his career and his party, and positioned himself once again as a major player.
The big knock on Ma is all the waffling and weakness. But that was always the knock on Ma. Nobody held it against him when one day he stridently called for no negotiations with China until the Chinese removed the missiles pointed at Taiwan, and the next, this had to be "clarified" by a sudden reversal of his position. Then there was the time that Ma inserted a toe into the Centrist depths by saying that the KMT could support independence if that's what the people wanted. Oops! That too had to be corrected the following day.
The point is that Ma has been doing the Ma Shuffle (one step forward, one step back, 180 degree turn left, 180 degree turn right. Repeat) over and over again throughout his tenure as leader and nobody really seems to mind. I have not heard any negative remarks about him among the public. So at the moment I can't join the consensus and say that Ma has taken a hit here. Relative to Soong, sure, Ma has suffered. But he hasn't lost position in any absolute sense. The public does not appear to be less confident in him than before and his Presidential hopes remain intact. The way things are at the moment, Ma could rape a sheep at rush hour on the steps of the Presidential Palace, and emerge unscathed: the largely pro-Blue media would blame the sheep for walking around without any clothes on, and Chiu Yi would accuse it of being involved in an illegal deal for shares of Taiwan Semiconductor Corporation.
Soong meanwhile has certainly done a nice imitation of It Has Risen From The Grave, and more power to him, since he splits the Blues, benefiting the Greens. If Ma's goal really was to align himself with the PFP to blur the differences between it and the KMT, so he can bring them back to the fold, the opposite effect has been achieved -- the PFP is back in the limelight and Soong is positioning himself to bargain for a spot on the 2008 ticket, if he can keep his party alive long enough.
Many people have noted that Soong just keeps helping the Greens by splitting the Blues, and here is yet another example. Because the recall motion failed, the President cannot now be recalled for the reminder of his term. If Chen really does do something requiring recall, they can't get to him. Another example of Soong helping the Greens? Only time will tell.