Mon, Dec 20, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Reeping an unexpected harvest from the elections

By Antonio Chiang江春男

The only real loser to emerge from the recent elections seems to be the People First Party (PFP). As for the Chinese National Party (KMT), the outcome gave a boost to its declining morale. Although the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) seized two more seats, they have been portrayed as the loser. All in all, the unexpected outcome of this election has humbled the DPP and given the KMT a chance to start over.

In more than 10 elections held over the past 20 years, there have been few major swings in power. In others words, losers in a legislative election are likely to make up lost ground by doing well in the mayoral and county commissioner elections that follow. The distribution of votes in this country is remarkably stable and whatever politicians may do to woo voters, they have never achieved a drastic change in this distribution.

Long-term supporters of the DPP are likely to be relieved by the outcome, seeing the result as positive. First, without a majority, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) no longer has to worry about fulfilling the promises he made during the campaign. Reckless attempts to carry out these promises could lead to disaster. Nor will he feel forced to resign within two years, as he promised to do if he did not perform well in his second term, which could have triggered a succession struggle.

Second, from now on Chen no longer has to keep pace with the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU). He should take a moderate approach and let Lee take care of the "deep green" supporters.

Third, former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) has seen much of what he fought for achieved. He has led his people into the land of Canaan and he can now take a rest.

Fourth, the KMT can start over. Its has correctly differentiated itself from the PFP, and with its increase in popularity, there is hope for internal reform.

Fifth, the outcome of the election gave KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) a chance to step down graciously from his chairmanship. If PFP Chairman James Soong decides to follow suit, the political scene will definitely become much brighter.

Sixth, Beijing can stop being anxious. As the opposition parties counterbalance each other in the legislature, Chen's government cannot make any rash moves.

Seventh, the US can stop inspecting what Chen does or says on a daily basis, as this constant finger pointing hurts the dignity of the Taiwanese people.

When Chen smells victory, he often loses his cool. On this occasion, his campaign rhetoric was so strident that although the campaign focused on peace and security, he still managed to frighten many moderates. Faced with failure, Chen coolly examined his actions. The outcome of this election was basically a no-confidence vote, which not only questioned his campaign tactics and the promises he made, but his style of leadership. The decisions he made will face criticism within the party.

The DPP has always stressed democracy within the party, but after a few years in government, the practice of "what I say counts" has gradually emerged. The arrogance of the DPP has appeared in various forms, and the party's failure in the election will have been a good thing if it forces party members to examine their conduct.

The overall development of this society is advantageous to the DPP, but being on the right side of history doesn't mean that you will rule, or that you can maintain power. The conceited will be punished and those who battle against adversity will be consoled. It is the same in politics as it is in life.

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