Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Recall vote fails

Many of you already know that the recall vote failed yesterday. I was watching one of the Chinese-language news channels when the vote took place, and as Kathrin Hille of the Financial Times explains:
As expected, the opposition failed to get the required two-thirds majority that would have led to a referendum on the recall of Mr Chen from office. Of the 221 legislators, 119 supported the motion, well short of the 148 votes needed.
Soon after the vote took place, the channel switched over to CNN, which was reporting on the recall. It sure was strange, and refreshing, to see CNN discussing the situation in Taiwan. They mentioned a poll that had Chen down to 30%, which if funny because all of the polls I have seen here make a big deal when Chen goes up to 20%. I'm not sure where CNN got this number from. Actually, I would also like to know more about the methodologies of the different Taiwan-based polling outfits. Not that I'm an expert, but it would at least be nice to know how many people polled are blue and how many are green. That is information American progressives have been demanding of pollsters, and I feel Taiwanese deserve the same.

Anyway, Hille goes on to discuss the possible next moves of the opposition:
After yesterday's vote, Mr Chen apologised for creating trouble, but appealed to the opposition to "close this chapter" and focus again on economic policy.

Analysts said the key question would be whether the opposition backed the cabinet's efforts to push through economic reforms. Ma Ying-jeou, chairman of the Kuomintang, the largest opposition party, and a favourite in the next presidential election scheduled for 2008, said the KMT would not block economic policy.

However, the opposition is determined to keep criticism of Mr Chen's alleged misconduct at the top of the political agenda. Mr Ma said the party would continue to collect signatures for a petition to recall the president, which 1.7m people had signed by yesterday. During parliament's summer recess, KMT legislators are to hold more than 1,000 events highlighting the president's supposed shortcomings.

How fast this could lead to further political upheaval remains to be seen. The People First party, the KMT's smaller ally, said after the recall vote that it would demand a vote of no-confidence against Su Tseng-chang, Taiwan's premier.

A no-confidence motion must be proposed by one third of members of parliament, and can be passed with an absolute majority. The PFP hopes Mr Chen would react by dissolving parliament, and that in the ensuing elections the opposition would win a majority large enough to succeed with another recall motion.
However, the opposition is merely making an assumption that they would win a majority if such a hypothetical were to manifest itself.


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