Monday, June 23, 2008

Constitutional Interpretation 644: Will There Be a "Chinese Reunification Party" on Kinmen?

Constitutional Interpretation 644: Will There Be a "Chinese Reunification Party" on Kinmen?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
June 23, 2008

Taiwan may soon legalize the establishment of a Communist Party or Taiwan Independence Party.

Last Friday the Council of Grand Justices issued Constitutional Interpretation 644. It ruled that provisions prohibiting civic groups from "advocating Communism or separatism" were inconsistent with the people's right to freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and freedom of expression, as specified in the constitution, and should be considered null and void from this day forward.

In other words, future advocates of Communism or Taiwan independence, or Kinmen, Matsu, or Penghu's separatism or independence, must be permitted to form officially recognized political parties. The Ministry of the Interior may not reject their applications.

On the one hand, this is an important milestone in democracy. On the other hand, this is also a profound challenge to our system of constitutional government. For example, suppose one day the island elects a County Magistrate who belongs to a "Chinese Reunification Party " or a "Kinmen Independence Party?" That may not lead to immediate reunification or independence. But it will certainly affect Taiwan's political situation and cross-strait relations.

Communism and Taiwan independence are Taiwan's two major political problems. People may have different about Communism's theory of class struggle. But a Taiwanese Communist Party working in conjunction with the Chinese Communist Party could enjoy considerable leverage in cross-strait affairs. Conversely, because parties advocating Taiwan independence enjoy the right to freedom of association, they will inevitably have an impact upon Taiwan's political spectrum and political climate.

Constitutional Interpretation 644 seems progressive. In fact it lags behind current realities. Take its declaration regarding the advocacy of Taiwan independence. The DPP already has a "Taiwan Independence Party Constitution." The Taiwan Independence Party and the Taiwan Solidarity Union are also well-known Taiwan independence parties. Take its declaration regarding the advocacy of Communism. Many social movements have left-wing political colors. They also have links with mainland China. Members of the public occasionally drive sound trucks displaying PRC flags broadcasting leftist slogans. No one seems terribly concerned.

Constitutional Interpretation 644 does not establish any new civil right. It merely acknowledges the existing political reality. In fact, Taiwan's politics have already gone beyond the issue of whether one may advocate Taiwan independence or Communism. Instead the issue is how to cope with Taiwan independence and Communism, given a framework of democracy.

Regarding Taiwan independence, the amending of the "100 Criminal Laws" in 1992 already made Taiwan independence thought crimes and Taiwan independence speech crimes a thing of the past. The Taiwan Independence Alliance and other such groups are highly active. But this does not mean advocacy of Taiwan independence is about to become the Conventional Wisdom. Dealing with Taiwan independence using democratic means has allowed Taiwan independence to achieve a higher media profile, but it has actually weakened Taiwan independence in actual substance. For example, how long has it been since we have heard the call for "Taiwan independence nation-building?" The term has been replaced by such vague terms as the "Rectification of Names and Authoring of a New Constitution." or the "Normalization of the Nation." The January 2008 Legislative Elections and March Presidential Election could be considered a repudiation of Chen Shui-bian and the DPP's Taiwan independence political machinations by a majority of public at the polls. One might say that ever since the amendment of the "100 Criminal Laws," the laws no longer prohibited Taiwan independence. Instead Taiwan independence has been repudiated by the public at the ballot box. It has led the DPP stepping down. If the next round of legislative elections are conducted according to the "single constituency, two vote" system, and the presidential election is changed to an "absolute majority" system, then the fate of the Taiwan independence movement and the direction of the nation will be decided via democratic elections.

Constitutional Interpreation 644 grants Communist Parties freedom of association. It also allows the public to advocate dividing the nation. Its impact is difficult to gauge. Germany prohibits the reestablishment of the Nazi Party. The United States has not allowed the establishment of a Communist Party. All of these constitute restrictions on freedom. As noted earlier, suppose one day a "Kinmen Chinese Reunification Party" or "Kinmen Independence Party" wins the parliamentary elections and county magistrate elections? Suppose one day, given "China's rise," a "Taiwan Communist Party" appears? Suppose it makes a persuasive case for reunification with the mainland? This will be one of many unpredictable consequences of Taiwan's democracy.

Constitutional Interpretation 644 deserves to be affirmed. But it will test Taiwan's democratic system. As mentioned above, The Council of Supreme Justices has merely acknowledged existing political realities. Over the past 20 years Taiwan's democratic system has accumulated considerable experience in coping with Taiwan independence and Communism. Taiwan's political consensus is that Taiwan's future must be the joint decision of 23 million people. If that is the case, then the value of Taiwan independence and Communism will also be decided by 23 million people.

Freedom comes first. especially freedom of association. If one day a real Communist Party and a real Taiwan independence party appear on Taiwan, democracy must reign supreme. Taiwan's fortunes, for better or worse, and Taiwan's direction, must remain in the hands of 23 million people.

六四四號解釋:會否出現「金門中國統一黨」
【聯合報╱社論】
2008.06.23 03:12 am

台灣可能出現合法備案正式成立的「共產黨」或「台灣獨立運動黨」。

上周五出爐的大法官會議第六四四號解釋:人民團體法中有關「人民團體之組織與活動,不得主張共產主義,或分裂國土」之規定,不符憲法保障人民結社自由和言論自由之意旨,應自解釋公布日起失效。

換句話說,未來主張共產主義、台灣獨立,甚或主張金門、馬祖、澎湖分離獨立者,皆可組成正式政黨,內政部不得駁回其備案申請。

一方面,這是民主深化的重要里程碑;另一方面,這也是對民主憲政的更深層考驗。例如,倘若金門有一天民選產生一位「金門中國統一黨」或「金門獨立黨」黨籍的縣長,雖然未必即會「統一」或「獨立」,但必將牽動台灣政局及兩岸關係。

共產主義及台獨主張,是台灣政治中的兩大難題。共產主義的階級鬥爭論容可見仁見智,但台灣若出現一個與中共聯結的台灣共產黨,卻可能成為兩岸的槓桿;另者,如今台獨主張既有結社組黨之自由,則對台灣的政治光譜及政治板塊亦可能發生影響。

六四四號解釋看似頗為先進,其實卻亦可說是落後於社會現實的「馬後砲」。就台獨主張言,莫說民進黨迄今仍有「台獨黨綱」,「建國黨」及「台灣團結聯盟」亦是盡人皆知的「台獨黨」;就共產主義言,則許多社運團體皆有左翼色彩,間亦有與中國大陸存有相當聯結者,國人在街頭偶見插著五星旗的宣傳車呼嘯而過,亦不致驚怪。

六四四號解釋,與其說開發了新的公民權,不如說只是承認了已經存在的政治現實。其實,台灣的政治課題早已超越了「能否主張台獨」或「能否主張共產主義」的問題,而是在於:台灣如何在民主平台上處理台獨及共產主義。

就台獨論,一九九二年「刑法一百條」的修正,已使台獨的思想犯及言論犯成為歷史名詞,「台獨聯盟」之類的團體亦十分活躍;但這卻未必等同於台獨主張即能成為主流民意,只是改以「民主」的方式來處理台獨議題。自從以民主平台來處理台獨議題後,台獨運動雖在形勢上升高,卻在實質上亦有倒退,例如久已不聞「台獨建國」,而改稱「正名制憲」或「國家正常化」等較隱晦的名詞;至二○○八年一月立法委員選舉及三月總統大選,則可謂是多數國人在投票箱前否定了陳水扁及民進黨的台獨操作。可以這麼說,自「刑法一百條」修正以來,法律即未禁止台獨主張;台獨主張最後是在民主平台上及投票箱前受到了民意節制,而導致民進黨下台。未來倘若仍維持立委選舉的「單一選區兩票制」,並進一步將總統選舉定為「絕對多數制」;則台獨運動或其任何關於國家定位主張之何去何從,應皆可由民主平台來決定。

六四四號解釋准許共產黨結社,再加以容許公開主張分裂國土,則較難估計其效應。其實,德國不容納粹黨再生,及美國亦曾不准共產黨設立,皆是在自由及限制之間的斟酌。前文論及,如果有一天金門出現「金門中國統一黨」或「金門獨立黨」,並贏得縣長及縣議會選舉;或如果有一天,在「中國崛起」的背景中,台灣出現了一個有品質的以階級論述及中國聯結為訴求的「台灣共產黨」,那都將為台灣的民主憲政添增許多變數。

六四四號解釋值得肯定,但對台灣的民主平台亦將是一考驗。如前所述,大法官只是承認了已經存在的政治現實,且二十年來台灣民主平台對台獨及共產主義已經累積了相當程度的處理經驗。台灣今日最大的政治共識是:台灣前途由二千三百萬人共同決定;既是如此,對台獨及共產主義的評價,自然亦應由二千三百萬人決定。

自由第一,結社自由,有一天真正的共產黨及台獨黨可能會在台灣出現;民主至上,但台灣的吉凶禍福、台灣的方向,仍是掌握在二千三百萬人手中。