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Taiwan's President Survives Recall Vote

  • Claudia Blume

Taiwan's first attempt to recall a sitting president has failed, but President Chen Shui-bian's political troubles do not appear to be over.

The leader of Taiwan's legislative Yuan, Wang Jin Ping, announced the result of Tuesday's parliamentary vote.

Mr. Wang says the vote for the recall measure lacked the necessary two-thirds majority, and therefore did not pass.

The vote was on calling a referendum asking whether President Chen Shui-bian should be removed from office. Members of Mr. Chen's ruling Democratic Progressive Party boycotted the vote.

Taiwan's opposition parties launched the recall move last month after Mr. Chen's son-in-law was implicated in insider trading, and his wife was accused of accepting gift vouchers from a department store in return for favors. Mr. Chen has not personally been linked to any wrongdoing, but the opposition claims he has lost the public's confidence and should resign.

Emile Sheng, political analyst at Taiwan's Soochow University, says Mr. Chen's survival of the recall vote does not mean his problems are over.

"It is easy for him to rally the support of his own party, but when the political pressure is gone he still has to face the accusations about all the vouchers, all the problems he is accused of. So this is really just the beginning of a lot of pressure to come," he said.

Earlier this month, Mr. Chen handed over some political powers to Premier Su Tseng-chang in an attempt to defuse the crisis. But that has not been enough to satisfy the opposition, or, apparently, the public.

The president's popularity has plummeted because of the scandals. Sheng says even if Mr. Chen survives his remaining two years in power, he will likely be a lame duck.

"Right now his approval rating is at about 20 percent. So a president with approval ratings of this low, it is very difficult to push for his own legislative and political agenda," added Sheng.

After Tuesday's vote, Mr. Chen apologized to the public for the political turmoil, and called for social harmony.

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