On Saturday, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Tsai Ing-wen was elected in resounding fashion to be the next president of Taiwan. While Tsai isn’t scheduled to go on the job until May 20th, she is already facing her first crisis as president with the sudden resignation on Monday of Taiwan’s entire cabinet.
The move was led by outgoing Premier Mao Chi-kuo in response to the KMT’s crushing and historic loss at the polls, and appears to be directed at forcing Tsai’s hand at the risk of a months-long government shutdown.
According to the Taipei Times, Mao walked out of a special cabinet meeting yesterday without taking any questions, only leaving behind this statement:
The new public consensus has been formed with the ending of last weekend’s elections. In respect of this, and to also ensure the smooth execution of future government matters, I have tendered my resignation to the president and announced a Cabinet reshuffle.
However, outgoing President Ma Ying-jeou has thus far rejected his premier’s resignation, even going so far as to visit Mao’s personal residence at around noon on Monday to try to talk him out of it.
In an interesting bit of political theater, Mao wife’s answered the door, while the premier himself didn’t come out to speak with Ma. According to local reports, the Taiwanese president was left waiting outside for five minutes before finally taking the hint and asking Mao’s wife to pass on his message to her husband.
In the event that the premeir steps down, the vice-premier then becomes the acting head of the cabinet. That duty falls to Simon Chang San-cheng, though it’s unclear for how long as Chang has informed reporters that all members of cabinet plan to follow Mao into resignation.
Tsai had previously rejected an offer from Ma to form a new cabinet and appoint her own premier in order to smooth the transition. She rejected the offer, but now the government appears to be faced with a four-month-long state of political limbo if Tsai does not act or if Ma is unable to convince Mao to reconsider his decision.