Promoting a grand coalition government would not be easy, but Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) told supporters at a campaign stop yesterday that she could make it happen if the public gave her their support and strength.
Having first mentioned the idea of a coalition government on Friday during the final televised policy debate hosted by the Central Election Commission, Tsai fielded questions on whether her government would adopt a strategy similar to the administration of former president Chen Sui-bian (陳水扁) in which “the premier does not necessarily have to be from the DPP” — a reference to former premier Tang Fei (唐飛).
After becoming president in 2000, Chen moved to pacify the pro-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) military by naming Tang, former president Lee Teng-hui’s (李登輝) minister of national defense and a member of the KMT, as his administration’s first premier.
Tang served in the post for only four months, resigning over a controversy regarding the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.
However, Tsai said that a DPP coalition government would be different from Chen’s inclusion of Tang. According to Tsai, there would be a dialogue between the government and opposition parties, which could lead to cooperation in administrative and legislative matters.
A DPP government would not have a “winner takes all” mindset and would not use its possible majority in the legislature to suppress the minority, Tsai said, adding that she would respect the legislature and the opposition, and listen to the voice of the people.
However, the KMT and President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) campaign team were quick to criticize Tsai’s remarks.
The Ma campaign team said Tsai’s coalition government would be a failure, just like Tang’s appointment, while KMT spokesperson Lai Su-ju (賴素如) added that during the eight years of the former DPP administration and the three years since Tsai became DPP chairperson, the issue of a grand coalition had never been mentioned.
“Bringing up the issue only six days before election day is political manipulation, pure and simple,” Lai said.
However, People First Party (PFP) spokesperson Wu Kun-yu (吳崑玉) said forming a coalition government was premised on none of the three major parties — KTM, DPP and PFP — having a majority in the legislature, adding that if PFP presidential candidate James Soong (宋楚瑜) were elected, he would form a coalition government.
However, Wu said that if Tsai were elected, the DPP and PFP would probably still not have a majority of legislative seats unless they managed to persuade some pan-blue legislators to align with them, so a coalition government could not be formed.
In response to the KMT’s criticism of her proposal, Tsai called on Ma and the KMT to not dismiss the idea of a grand coalition government that could unite the nation.
Additional reporting by Peng Hsien-chun
Translated by Jake Chung, Staff Writer