Thu, Nov 04, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: US, Taiwan are democratic partners

We may have to wait for a few days before the winner of the US presidential election is officially announced; a situation that brings back memories of 2000's interminable wrangling. However, the ending of the controversy between George W. Bush and Al Gore in 2000 made us confident in US democracy in that the losing side had the grace to accept that loss as part of the process of the rule of law and abide by it, controversial though it was.

Today, the Taiwan High Court will deliver its verdict in the lawsuit challenging the results of our own presidential election. On the eve of the verdict, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) tried to stir up the public's emotions by calling President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) a cheat. Not only that but he said that since, whatever the finding's of the court, fraud had definitely occurred, that any citizen had the right to murder the president to bring an end to his fraudulent rule. Not only does Lien not accept the rule of law, this bad loser dares to incite others to commit the most heinous of crimes as a sop to his vanity.

But let's leave Lien's insanity aside. The reason the whole world paid attention to the outcome of the US election is that the US is the only remaining super-power and that it still assumes the role of policing the world. The re-elected Bush will thus influence global conflict and instability over the next four years. Allies of the US have high hopes for the Bush administration in its second term, while its enemies are watching it with covetous eyes. Given the US' position as the world's perceived democratic benchmark, dictatorships across the globe must to a certain extent view the election as a joke and hope that something will go wrong -- such as civil unrest, irregularities or vote rigging. Such scenarios would make every criticism directed at democracy by the world's dictators seem legitimate.

Regardless of what happens, the US is one of the world's oldest democracies. The lesson the world can learn from election lies in its electoral culture; how a stable, mature two-party political system works, the media's role in the electoral process and the accuracy of opinion polls and voter behavior. Research into these issues will become the foundation of political science theory around the world.

As an ally of the US, Taiwan is surely interested in the re-election of Bush. We are not concerned about the possibility of the Bush administration shifting its Taiwan policy. After all, the US is already a mature democracy. Taiwan-US relations have steadily developed on the basis of a long-term friendship. Although there were some ups and downs in the past, Taiwan-US relations are unlikely to alter unless a drastic change takes place across the Taiwan Strait.

We are concerned about the election because Taiwan-US relations are complex. We hope that post-election legal squabbling will not damage the image of US democracy. An incident-free outcome will help Taiwan and the US continue to boost their bilateral exchanges. Taipei needs to get on with talking to Washington about the proposed arms procurement plan, as well as our efforts to enter the World Health Organization and other international bodies.

As vote counting trickled in yesterday, people in this country were on edge -- as if we are participating in the election ourselves -- because Taiwan and the US are partners.

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