Dissolution of Legislative Yuan high-stakes gamble for president
By Alan Fong, The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- C. V. Chen (陳長文), a famous lawyer and former head of the Red Cross Society of Taiwan, dropped a bomb on the political scene by proposing the dissolution of the Legislative Yuan in a China Times op-ed yesterday.
October 1, 2013, 12:09 am TWN
Taiwan is experiencing the worst stalemate in its constitutional history, Chen said. Despite the calls for de-escalation, even by a High Court judge presiding over the injunction appeal case, President and Kuomintang (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou is insisting the influence peddling case is a matter of right and wrong while Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng maintains his innocence. Premier Jiang Yi-huah, who earlier said the Cabinet is ready for a “Legislature without Wang,” insists his words were misinterpreted and refuses to apologize while lawmakers from the opposition Democratic Progressive Party insist on filibustering Jiang's policy report at the Legislative Yuan.
As none of these players in the “September Struggle” appears to be backing down, the ruling and opposition parties should consider disbanding the Legislative Yuan through a vote of no confidence against the Cabinet and let the electorate decide, Chen said.
Chen's proposal is not shocking in itself. The DPP has been calling for a vote of no confidence for over a week. What's shocking is the fact that Chen has long been a close friend to Ma. While Chen has said yesterday that his thought is his own and has nothing to do with the president, his idea is widely seen as a bellwether to test the public opinion on the issue.
For a no-confidence vote to succeed, at least one third of all lawmakers have to sign up in the motion and at least half of the Legislature (57 lawmakers) have to vote for it. In other words, it is highly unlikely to succeed without a nod from the KMT leadership. That means Ma's approval.
Disbanding the Legislature would be a huge gamble for Ma. Given Ma's dismal approval ratings, the KMT might lose its Legislative Yuan majority in a fresh election. Although that result might bundle the DPP to the tough decisions facing the government — it is easier to denounce policies such as the cross-strait service trade pact and the Nuclear Power Plant No. 4 than to actually amend or axe them — Ma will probably not stand to profit from it personally. He will have to accept the defeat as the people's vote of no confidence against him.
What does Ma, as the KMT leader, have to gain from a dissolved Legislature? The obvious answer is the termination of Wang's speakership, which would end with a dissolved legislature. Wang would also be stripped of his KMT legislator-at-large status, forcing him to run in regional lawmaker election. The KMT could further sabotage Wang's chances by nominating a candidate in his district.
A legislative election can also serve as a “show of hands” for Ma. Even with his low popularity, Ma still holds substantial power through his prerogative to nominate candidates as KMT chairman. Rather than the slow bloodletting, an election with Ma at helm could help consolidate the party around him.
The dissolution of the Executive Yuan and Legislative Yuan also would present Ma with a horse-trading opportunity. The resignation of Premier Jiang Yi-huah would allow the man widely seen as a top aide to Ma to join the 2014 Taipei mayoral election. Ma could also offer the vacant premiership to incumbent Taipei Mayor Hau Long-bin as a way to recruit him into his camp. Hau, a potential presidential candidate, has been voicing disagreements to some of Ma's policies.