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June 24, 2017

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Students, KMT and DPP struggling to not compromise

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- As the student activists' occupation of the Legislature drags on, the political parties do not seem to have brewed up any actual means to resolve the government-student conflict after the cross-caucus negotiations fell flat once more on Tuesday.

Failing to reach a shared and even balanced conclusion would hardly surprise anyone who is familiar with the bipolar political scene in Taiwan that has lasted for nearly three decades, but many have complained that the people are yet again on the receiving side of these political disagreements as the Legislature is out of operation.

While the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has been backing the students' demands to the government and rooting for them from day one, the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) has hit back with its own conditions: the pact is to be reviewed clause-by-clause, the review to be presided over by Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), no restrictions to the circumstances under which the review will be carried out and that the DPP should sign an agreement not to stall the passage of the pact.

In line with its predictable refusal of the students' demands that the pact should be withdrawn, the KMT has come up with something that the other side would of course reject. The DPP has done everything it could to boycott KMT-friendly laws in the past, and it would be unbearable if the party simply sat by and watched the KMT vote its way through all proposals the pan-green camp deemed unacceptable; the democratic law of majority rule goes unheeded in the Legislature's infamous brawls.

The KMT's condition that the review be carried out under all circumstances may be a threat or a blessing to the opposition; there is a possibility that the pact would be returned and passed in the Legislature's Internal Administration Committee, which is the DPP's greatest wish.

Waiting for Ma's Surrender

Inside and surrounding the Legislative Yuan, the students also noted again and again — despite slight shifts — that they will not be the ones backing off. After the surprise occupation of the Executive Yuan last Sunday night and the "violent" police eviction that followed, the students are divided into two parties: they are either too scared to continue, or the Executive Yuan movement succeeded in boosting the morale.

Yet the students may be aware that the chances Ma would agree to their conditions were less than slim. The students had passed out requests for lawmakers to sign to show their support, asking them to support the passing of a supervisory law concerning cross-strait pacts — something the president and the KMT would rather continue keeping mum about rather than consent to. The request for the lawmakers to unanimously show their support would only land the students in a stalemate.

With all three sides — or two, since the DPP is siding with the students — struggling to grasp the upper hand and refusing to compromise, the movement may only end as a lose-lose situation.

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