Fri, Aug 06, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Outlook for pan-bluealliance is grim indeed

By Chin Heng-Wei金恆煒

From a number of recent polls it would appear that support for the pan-blue camp is lower than ever before, and the individual popularity of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) has fallen to shockingly low levels as well. Political commentators, both pro-green and pro-blue, are increasingly concluding that the pan-blue camp will not be able to retain its legislative majority in the year-end elections.

What should they do? Soong's political contortions have never really gotten away from the tired old ploy of forming a "pan-blue alliance" as a way to save the situation. He even wants to incorporate the Taiwan Democracy School (TDS) to build up the number of seats the blues might be able to win. We don't know if Lien approved it or not, but the chairman of the new group, Hsu Hsin-liang (許信良), snubbed Soong's offer. Anyway, the real question is with the pan-blue camp now in total disarray, how can the TDS, which regards itself as pan-blue, manage to save it?

Even if Lien wanted to go along with Soong, he no longer has the authority to bend the party to his will, and virtually no one in the KMT supports Soong. Even members of the PFP such as Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟) and Hsu Yuan-kuo (許淵國) don't seem to believe that Soong's "alliance" plan can save the PFP. They have pointed out that the PFP has reached its present situation because it is out of touch with the people, and re-establishing that connection should be the party's first priority.

Looked at in this way, the "alliance" is doomed, with "no help from above or support from below." It is worth observing that in the PFP, which has been called a "one-man party," the chairman has already lost his authority and looks like he will follow the same road as Lien, so that they will truly be "brothers in distress."

With Soong's "alliance" clearly dead at birth, Lien has sought to persuade Soong to focus on legislative reform and constitutional amendment, and it is said that Soong gladly agreed. When Lien ordered party staff to give priority to this issue, his most significant statement was that "this is even more important than the March 19 investigation commission." This clearly indicates that Lien has accepted Wang Jin-pyng's (王金平) election strategy, attacking the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on the issue of constitutional amendment and focusing the party's energy on President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) proposal that a new constitution should be completed by 2006.

Two points emerge from this: first, that Lien has abandoned hope in the investigation commission into the election-eve attack on the president. His solemn oath of "no truth, no president" was clearly insincere, for otherwise, why would he abandon it as soon as it no longer seems useful? Clearly this slogan was simply a result of his unwillingness to concede defeat.

Second, not only are PFP legislators protesting, but even KMT legislators do not much fancy their prospects. PFP chief whip Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄) said that flood relief in the wake of Tropical Storm Mindulle will at least be popular with the public, while a constitutional amendment will simply be setting the stage for the DPP. KMT Legislator Apollo Chen (陳學聖), a member of the party's standing committee, expressed similar views about not "walking behind the DPP."

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