The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of Taiwan has achieved an impressive victory in the legislative election held on 1 December, 2001. The DPP has 87 out of a total 225 seats in the new legislature, which convenes in February. For the first time in 52 years, the opposition Nationalist Party (Kuomintang, KMT) has lost control of the legislative Yuan. It now has 68 seats, down from 110 previously.
Even though the DPP did not get an outright majority in the legislature, the vote has handed president Chen Shui-bian's party the opportunity to dominate Taiwan's political scene. Such a strong DPP representation in the Yuan means that the Lungmen project is once again under consideration for completion. There is a strong chance that the DPP will legislate for a phase out of the country's six operating reactors. Even if president Chen does not push for halting Lungmen, the costs of the project have escalated — partly due to the three-month suspension a year ago — and Taipower will have to ask lawmakers for more funds before the next presidential elections in 2004. Funding of $3.7 billion for the two ABWRs had been approved by previous legislatures, but estimates are now approaching $6 billion.
Financial analysts in Hong Kong and Taiwan who track Taipower believe that there is no threat to the nuclear programme, pointing out that post-election gains were led by those semiconductor and computer manufactures that would suffer baseload power shortages by around 2005, should the Lungmen project be scrapped.
Towards the end of 2000 the DPP halted construction of Lungmen without consulting parliament. In January last year the project was restarted after KMT won a vote in the Yuan — then 218 seats — by 134 to 70. Only three KMT members voted with the minority government.