The collapse of Taiwan’s government

Without anyone really noticing, the government of the Republic of China collapsed on February 1st this year. The government is made up of five branches:

  • The Legislative Yuan (this is the main ‘parliament’ which has all the foodfights and arguments)
  • The Executive Yuan (the ‘cabinet’ appointed by the president)
  • The Judicial Yuan (the legal system)
  • The Examination Yuan (handles the civil service)
  • The Control Yuan (a watchdog body)

The Legislative, Executive, Judical and Examination bodies are functioning as you would expect, but the Control Yuan has been stuck in limbo since the previous incumbents left office at the end of January. The problem is that the members of the Control Yuan are proposed by the President, and this is then ratified by the Legislature … unfortunately when (pan-Green) President Chen proposed a list of members to the (pan-Blue controlled) Legislature, they refused to ratify it. Until agreement is reached, the government will continue to operate without one of its core bodies.

In practical terms, this means that over 3000 appeal cases have built up over the last two months, with noone to look at them. Although this has hardly caused the nation to grind to a halt, it is fairly indicative of the paralysis in government caused by the antipathy between the Legislature and the Presidency (which has been ongoing for five years now).

An empty Control Yuan does seem to get as much done as a full Legislature though: As another example of the paralysis yesterday, all 33 bills proposed to the legislature were voted down by the KMT and the PFP – with the PFP (supposedly allies with the DPP nowadays) declaring ‘war’ on the DPP for not supporting their bill.

This state of affairs is one of the reasons put forward for constitutional reform (Do you really need 5 branches of government? What really is the separation of powers between the president and the legislature?). However, you need cross-party agreement on this, and with reforms that were already unanimously agreed upon last year now under doubt, reform is looking like the last thing on the agenda in Taiwan nowadays.