Taiwan’s main opposition party again occupied parliament on Tuesday to protest against the nomination of a close aide to the president to a top-level watchdog, after fighting with ruling party lawmakers to get into the building.
Violence and protests inside the chamber are not unusual in Taiwan, a spirited democracy where passions often run over.
Last month fights erupted inside the chamber after lawmakers from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) broke through barricades erected by the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) who had occupied it to protest against government “tyranny”.
The KMT has been protesting President Tsai Ing-wen’s nomination of her senior aide Chen Chu to head the Control Yuan, an independent government watchdog, saying it is “political cronyism”.
Lawmakers from both parties fought outside the building before a group of KMT legislators got into parliament’s main chamber, occupying the central podium seeking to prevent a confirmation hearing for Chen.
KMT lawmakers overturned the stand where Chen was due to speak, unveiling banners reading “no to cronyism, withdraw the nomination”, and shouted back and forth with their DPP opposite numbers.
“We cannot accept this and are resolutely opposed to it,” KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang told supporters outside parliament, some of whom were involved in brief scuffles with the police.
Chen expressed regret she was unable to get into the building, saying the opposition was denying her a chance to be heard.
“For lack of a better option, the opposition can only make smears and accusations, using irrational methods to stop me from going to the podium,” she said in a statement.
The DPP has a large parliamentary majority, and has been angered by the targeting of Chen, who was jailed in 1980 for helping lead pro-democracy demonstrations against the then-KMT government when Taiwan was a dictatorship.
The KMT was trounced in January’s parliamentary and presidential elections, having failed to shake off accusations they were too pro-China.
The party traditionally favours close ties with China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory.