Fri, Aug 15, 2003 - Page 8 News List

DPP must review its failings to win again

By Chin Heng-wei 金恆煒

Some fierce criticism voiced by DPP Legislator Chang Chun-hung (張俊宏) against his party and its chairman, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), captured media attention. As the presidential election draws near, any criticism from DPP members of the party will be harmful. Re-marks by Chang, a veteran member, definitely carry more weight.

First, regarding the source of Chang's dissatisfaction, he said that he had proposed many ideas to the party but all he received was the cold shoulder, and he had always felt alone. With such explicit testimony, his discontent of course did not come from nowhere. What he complained of, however, is the DPP's internal politics, on which others find it difficult to comment and have no right to comment.

Second, he pointed out the party has failed to review and analyze its loss in the Hualien County commissioner election. He believes the loss is a sign of the party's decline. We have no way of knowing whether the DPP has reviewed its failure or whether the review was rigorous enough. However, the party does need to examine its mistakes.

Since it came to power in 2000, the party has been through many elections. Has it examined every election upon its victory or loss? Party members have the right to express their criticism and advice. And it is the decision-making body of the DPP that should be open-minded about them and respond.

However, Chang's claim that the campaign theme "one country on each side of the Taiwan Strait" raised by Chen is a hackneyed tune which guarantees nothing but loss is debatable. It is vital for a party to think how to plan a campaign and to launch appropriate appeals that position it alongside the mainstream values.

Chen obviously did not agree with Chang. He made it clear that "there is no room for compromise on one-country-on-each-side stance." This can be viewed his response to Chang's proposal.

The real issue here is: Can the "one country on each side of the Taiwan Strait" theme win next year's presidential election for the DPP? Is this appeal appealing? Will it be beneficial to the green camp and detrimental to the blue camp?

Is the theme a cliche? Of course not. Chang may have developed such an impression because this theme has won overwhelming support in all kinds of polls, indicating that it is becoming a mainstream public opinion.

Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) "special state-to-state relations" model of cross-strait relations polarized public opinion when he announced it. The theory was shelved since not even the US was happy about it.

But this time, the pan-blues first opposed and then chose to be silent about Chen's "one country on each side of the Taiwan Strait" statement. It's not difficult to understand why. It means that the theme chosen by the DPP resonates with the public, which is a remarkable achievement of the ruling party, something worth noting in history.

Now let's look at the theme the pan-blue camp choose for their campaign for next year's presidential election -- "Taiwan first, prosperity again." The first half of the slogan was stolen from Lee and the second half emphasizes the economy. Apparently the pan-blue camp does not dare to continue to stress "one China," while Chen's "one country on each side of the Taiwan Strait" has become its Achilles' heel.

The major distinction between the green and blue camps is whether it's "one country on each side of the Strait" or it's "one China." Therefore if Chang wanted the DPP to discard its theme, this would help the KMT-PFP alliance and smiles would be seen on the faces of KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜).

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