Sun, Sep 26, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Pan-blues have shot themselves in the foot

By Liu Kuan-teh 劉冠德

A recent survey by the local China Times showed that public approval ratings for the Democratic Progressive Party(DPP) are running at a high 42 percent. The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) was second in the level of public approval at 33 percent. Its ally, the People First Party (PFP) unexpectedly scored last, after the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU).

The results of the poll echoed one conducted by Formosa Survey Research two months ago. That poll also showed that the post-election protests launched by the pan-blue alliance against the legitimacy of President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) re-election led to the erosion of their public support. What exactly happened within the pan-blue camp in the past couple of months? What elements have dragged the KMT and the PFP into the political quicksand? And most importantly, what implications will the decline of pan-blue influence have for Taiwan's political landscape?

The more hawkish approach that the pan-blue camp has taken since the March 20 presidential election is the key to their loss of public confidence. In the beginning, both parties had diverse "exit strategies" to deal with what they characterized as the Chen's "illegitimate" administration. The PFP's more radical appeals to challenge the judiciary contributed to a severe erosion of its own political support.

Furthermore, while most pan-blue supporters anticipate a KMT-PFP merger, political considerations are preventing the merger until after the December legislative elections. PFP chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) publicly suggested that the merger should take place next February.

Ironically, as the PFP's base of support weakens, individual PFP candidates can no longer stay quiet as the PFP goes down a dead-end road. PFP legislator Diane Lee (李慶安) and her brother Lee Ching-hua (李慶華) unexpectedly announced last week that they would like to see the pan-blue merger occur on the Oct. 10 National Day, two days before the registration deadline for the upcoming legislative elections.

Now even the internal divisions within the PFP are coming to the surface. This complicates the KMT and PFP's ability to cooperate and move ahead together. The question is not how and when the KMT and PFP should merge, but rather whether or not the PFP will be absorbed by the KMT.

Why can't the pan-blue camp learn lessons from the past on failing to unite? In elections, you shouldn't get so carried away with being so gracious in victory that you forget what you were fighting for. All victories are fleeting. So when you win one, move quickly and decisively to consolidate your gains. This way you will avoid being dragged down by past glory, and avoid an obstructionist role.

Yes, the pan-blue camp's enemy is themselves. The fact that Chen and the pan-green camp are more united than their opponents in dealing with the post-election political dynamics constitutes the key reason for their increased political support.

Most people are tired of endless political finger-pointing. Nor are they interested in seeing who the leading competitors are for the next presidency in 2008. What the voters crave most is for the country to get back on the right track. Prospects look even more favorable for the pan-green camp if Lien and Soong persist in their unrealistic fantasy of overturning the last presidential election.

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