Sat, Nov 06, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Pan-blues could learn from Kerry

Two days ago, the Taiwan High Court announced that the pan-blue camp had failed in their lawsuit challenging the validity of the March 20 presidential election. This is not the end of the issue, but rather the beginning of the final chapter.

The pan-blue camp had expected to lose its case, and in a press conference the day before the announcement, it had already set about limiting the damage. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) also said that if President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was guilty of cheating, people were entitled to murder him, a clear indication that he has no intention of bowing to the High Court's verdict.

Naturally, Lien and People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) have the right to take the case to the Supreme Court in pursuit of the smallest hope that they can get this verdict overturned. This is simply a way of sustaining the pan-blue camp in the runup to the legislative elections so as not to totally destroy its electoral hopes. Lien and Soong's insistence on pursuing the case is also a way of hanging on to their positions as chairmen of their parties. Lien and Soong rejected all attempts at party reform using the excuse that the dispute over the presidential election had not been resolved. In this way they continue to hold back a new generation of potential leaders. Despite repeated defeats on many fronts, they are still incapable of the self-examination that is essential to the revitalization of their parties.

During the US presidential election in 2000, the US could have degenerated into the endless struggle that we now see in Taiwan. But Al Gore, even though he held a majority of the popular vote, conceded the election to avoid a constitutional crisis. This is the behavior of a statesman who has both political insight and an understanding of the law. This action avoided the catastrophe of a US president being put in power by judicial decision without opposition support.

Four years later, Senator John Kerry conceded defeat to avoid dividing the nation. In conceding defeat before the complete count of votes in Ohio, Kerry was putting the national interest first and showing that he was a true statesman. He also showed that what is important in democracy is not only the system, but the understanding and faith of political leaders in the democracy and the laws of the nation.

In Taiwan, the scope of the struggle over the election has expanded. As the parties that lost the election are unwilling to concede defeat, and have taken the issue to the courts and to the streets, Taiwan has achieved little of political importance since March. In the process, time and community resources have been squandered.

If we compare our elections with those in the US, we can see that America's democratic culture is significantly more mature than ours. We have not had America's luck, for we only have a Lien, rather than a Gore. Lien does not see things in terms of competition, but only as a battle to the death. The battle has been going on for a year now, and the defeat in the High Court is a skirmish before the fight for votes in next month's legislative elections. Only when one party falls on its sword will the battlefield be cleared. This is the nation's misfortune.

The High Court's judgment on the validity of the March 20 election is the first domino to fall in this drawn-out electoral race, but it is not hard to see that the chances of winning future verdicts in this case are minimal. As for the legal proceedings associated with the March 19 Shooting Truth Investigation Special Committee Statute (三一九槍擊事件真調會條例), even a layman can see that numerous articles in the statute are unconstitutional. The pan-blue camp knows this, but proceeds regardless. As a result, it is now in danger of destroying the hopes of its parties in next month's legislative elections. If Lien and Soong were far-sighted statesmen, they would know that it was time to stop -- rather than make their own political parties and the whole nation the sacrificial victims of their self-destruction.

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