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    Taiwan constitution in desperate straits
    By Jamie Miyazaki
    Asia Times; 21 Apr 2004

    The acrimonious and at times violent protests in Taipei over President Chen Shui-bian's controversial re-election does not bode well for a smooth ride for his next term in office, assuming he wins a scheduled recount. Fallujah it may not have been, but Florida 2000 it may well come to be.

    Despite being re-elected on the most razor-thin of majorities, just 0.2 percent on an electoral turnout of 80 percent, Chen is probably likely to hold on to his office. For a start, Chen is unlikely to have agreed to a recount so swiftly if he did not feel it would confirm his victory. Even the opposition pan-blue alliance appears tacitly to accept this outcome by declaring it will hold another protest rally on May 19, the day before the presidential inauguration. 0 million on nanotechnology in 2002, and

    When George W Bush clinched the US presidency back in 2000 under similarly acrimonious circumstances, some pundits were quick to point to his legacy of bipartisan governance in Texas and that he would inevitably move to rule from the center in view of his questionable electoral mandate. Such predictions proved to be somewhat premature as the Bush administration struck off on its own distinctive policy path and the political debate in the United States got more polarized and nastier.

    A second term for Chen Shui-bian, on the other hand, has furnished no such illusions. His appointment of Chen Tan-sun, a pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) parliamentarian and former head of an independence lobby group, as foreign minister to replace the outgoing Eugene Chien shows Chen is sticking firmly to his guns on his Taiwan-centric policy agenda. Chen has been quick to stake a claim on a new mandate - he can respectably claim to have captured a further 11 percent of the vote since 2000, and as he pointed out, even if you win by one vote you're still the winner - although the pan-blue opposition is unlikely to see it that way.

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