Sun, Nov 28, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Parties should give up the ghost

There are fewer than 20 days until the legislative election. The election is a key battle that will decide whether the pan-blue camp can maintain its legislative majority and continue to hold more seats in the legislature. Alternatively, the pan-green camp may enjoy a legislative majority for the first time, and hold in its grasp both the legislative and executive powers.

As the election campaign reaches an all-time high in terms of intensity, one cannot help but feel perplexed. The campaign's spirit of rowdiness seems to come mostly from deliberate manipulations of debate topics and the use of campaign gimmicks. Although it's an important and critical campaign, voters have not actually been informed of any positive campaign platforms.

The only things being fed to them are fistfights between political camps and debate topics being tossed out nonchalantly, one after another. These are issues that have virtually taken over front page newspaper headlines every day. This type of campaigning is comparable to stocks whose prices are driven over the top by speculation.

The worrisome thing is this: the present campaign race has failed not only to outline a vision for its policy proposals, but it has become only an extension of the presidential election through which the parties seek to settle their scores once and for all. The only difference between this upcoming election and the March 20 presidential election is that this election is being fought by party representatives.

While on the surface it is an election race between a group of pan-green and pan-blue candidates, the real leading characters are still President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰), and People's First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜).

If presidential and legislative races are considered indicators of democratization and nativization, then Taiwan has completely left behind the shadow of its authoritarian past. In particular, the 2000 presidential election brought changes to the ruling party, helping facilitate judiciary independence, education reform, and in particular education of history. It also stressed a loyalty of the military exclusively to the government, rather than to any particular political parties.

As a result, the dignity and human rights of the people of Taiwan were safeguarded, in the process shattering the plots of the conservative forces to revive the old system of government monopolized by the KMT. This historical evolution ensured the implementation of political democracy in Taiwan.

However, democratic reforms entail much more than the establishment of a political system: they also give substance to the system established. One hopes that the legislative election this year can indeed elevate the quality and substance of Taiwan's democracy and give the country a new sense of direction and vitality. One cannot but feel disappointment in view of the performance of both ruling and opposition camps thus far, and offer some words of advice.

Up to now, the hottest topics in the campaign have been none other than the "soft coup" and "mixing the national and KMT emblems," both raised by Chen. As a result, no talk shows in Taiwan can steer clear of these topics for even a day. At the same time, fearing to pale in comparison, the printed media is giving extensive coverage to these topics of discussion.

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