Tue, Apr 13, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Chaos cuts blue camp's chances in future polls

By Wang Yeh-lih 王業立

Ever since Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) claimed on election night that the election was "unfair," the blue camp has adopted a more radical stance, trying to seek justice through the pressure of a would-be mass movement. Through live media coverage, the public have been treated to mostly radical politicians giving passionate speeches at mass demonstrations. Some politicians have even said that these protests will never end if they do not have their way.

Yet many are discovering that the pan-blue camp's political demands and methods of protest are chaotic. This more or less explains why internal opinion is divided on its post-defeat direction. Not only was Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) "unable to attend" the protest held at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall on April 3, but also many "pro-localization" legislators are opposing the protests out of fear of being marginalized at the legislative elections at the end of this year.

What these incumbent lawmakers care about the most is maximizing their chances of being re-elected. Previously, being either a hawk or a dove could prove profitable: Under the special multiple-member-district system, legislative candidates do not have to win support from a majority of voters. Instead, they have only needed to secure votes from a small group of die-hard supporters.

Sometimes, candidates from the same party rely on different pools of voters. The hawks are therefore attempting to attract "deep-blue" supporters at the protests, while the doves, unable to attract these elements, are worrying about the party losing its grassroots supporters.

The interests of a party and its candidate often contradict each other. Maximizing a blue-camp lawmaker's personal interest may not tally with the overall interests of the pan-blue camp.

For the hawks, for example, apart from consolidating the support of the "deep blues," it seems that their actions since the presidential election have failed to attract new supporters.

Many in the localization faction of the KMT, on the other hand, were elected with the support of local forces. But as the party's grip on local factions has loosened, the ability of the pan-green camp to appeal to grassroots sympathies has grown, together with an increase in pan-green administrative resources.

And all this occurs as Taiwanese consciousness continues to increase.

Many pan-blue lawmakers who are pro-localization are incapable of hunting for a new source of votes in the face of their radical colleagues' rigid appeals to the "deep blues."

Under such circumstances, they surely must feel that their political careers are seriously threatened.

In the previous legislative election, the percentage of votes received by the green camp exceeded 40 percent for the first time, while that of the pan-blue camp dropped to 50 percent.

For the legislative election this December, if pan-blue camp lawmakers -- of whatever tint -- do nothing but vie for existing electoral resources and care for nothing but their political careers, the resources they need to survive will soon peter out.

Today, the pan-blue alliance's most urgent task is to rethink its direction and development, rediscover mainstream thinking and explore new channels of winning votes. The blue-camp's new spring will never arrive if its political elite can only fumble about "consolidating the central leadership."

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