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July 27, 2017

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New Legislature leaves gov't in a bind

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Members of the Cabinet find themselves in the middle of an awkward impasse, following the landslide win of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in both the presidential and legislative races.

Premier Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) said Saturday he had tendered his resignation to President Ma Ying-jeou. In his statement, Mao suggested allowing the new majority party in the Legislative Yuan to form the new Cabinet, and urged for it to become a new constitutional precedent.

"Only through doing this, will it benefit the nation," concluded Mao.

According to local media, Ma phoned President-elect Tsai Ing-wen on the evening she won the election, inviting her to discuss a suitable candidate for the premiership. However, the president-elect rejected Ma's proposition on the spot, stressing that the "Constitution allows no room (for the arrangement)."

With the less-than-enthusiastic response from the president-elect on the idea of a "majority government" and Mao's resignation, the nation may find itself on the brink of a four-month government shutdown, warned analysts.

'I'd rather die'

Also, the United Daily News stated that several senior officials expressed their intention to act in accordance with Mao, some even stating they would "rather die than stay (in the Cabinet)."

Officials said that if they stayed, their policies would never make it through the opposition Legislature, and the new situation would be extremely "toxic" for current Cabinet members.

In the election, the DPP secured 68 seats, the for-now ruling Kuomintang (KMT) took 35 seats and the New Power Party (NPP) took five seats.

According to the Presidential Office, Ma has long abided to the Constitution and has often openly expressed that the premier should be decided by the majority party in the Legislature. To ensure the government can operate smoothly, Ma previously said he would appoint a premier supported by the majority party, to "realize a blue-green coalition government."

The Legislature will be sworn in on Feb. 1, ahead of the new president on May 20. If the stalemate remains unresolved, the government is likely to become a "caretaker government" for nearly four months.

Waiting for Wu

Following Tsai's previous rejection of the proposal, the Presidential Office stated on Sunday that it would wait until Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), secretary-general of the DPP, returns from his U.S. trip to discuss the matter further.

Before negotiating with the DPP, Ma said he would not approve the premier's resignation.

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