Tue, Dec 21, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Pan-greens are the ultimate winners

Kao Lang高朗

On Dec. 14, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) announced his resignation as the chairman of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) as a gesture of taking responsibility for the election defeat. This shows that Chen is an expert in resolving personal political crises, and he is good at surviving adversity while turning defeat into victory -- just like former US President Bill Clinton, who was praised as the "comeback kid." By resigning, not only has Chen eliminated internal criticisms right away, he has also saved his reputation and further consolidated his leadership inside the DPP.

Chen said that he resigned to take responsibility for the election failure. Did the DPP really lose? A myth about the elections for the Sixth Legislative Yuan is the blue camp's victory. Whether judged by the percentage of votes or the number of legislative seats held, not only did the pan-green camp not lose, but it also grew slightly, remaining the biggest party in the legislature. In comparison, the 114 seats won by the pan-blue camp are actually one seat fewer than before. Its so-called victory is therefore exaggerated.

But why do the public have an illusion that the pan-blue camp won the elections? The reason is that the DPP caused a sensation by taking the lead in major campaign issues, which led to the prediction that the pan-green camp would win the majority this time, or perhaps neither the pan-green nor pan-blue camps could gain the majority. Most people did not believe that the pan-blue camp would be able to win a majority. Even the blue camp itself was not confident about it. This could be seen from the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) prediction which seats it would win.

Due to the gap between the election results and the public's prediction, we immediately have an impression that the pan-blue camp won and the pan-green camp lost the elections. Thus, the pan-blue camp's perceived victory is a result of the two camps' expectations for the elections.

Another reason for the impression of the pan-blue camp's victory is that, during the campaign, the pan-blues advocated maintaining the status quo, while the pan-greens advocated changing the country's name, thereby altering the status quo. Whether Taiwan's status quo would be changed depended on whether the pan-green camp could win the majority. Since it failed to win the majority, its attempt to change the status quo also failed. Naturally, the public thinks the pan-green camp lost the elections.

Nevertheless, no matter how people "feel," a real victory depends on the percentage of votes and the number of legislative seats won by the two camps. Viewed from this perspective, the pan-blues have merely retained their seats, and this cannot be called a victory.

In fact, the pan-blue camp is facing new crises after the elections. For example, with the KMT celebrating its victory, the People First Party (PFP) is angry about the election outcome -- because the KMT's gains are based on the PFP's losses. Since it failed to expand its supporter base, the KMT's victory meant the PFP's defeat. The redivision of the pan-blue camp's political map will certainly aggravate the two parties' conflicts, making it even more difficult for them to merge in the future.

If the gap between the KMT and PFP continues to grow, not only will the two parties be unable to merge, they may further separate as each goes its own way. As for a split pan-blue camp and a united pan-green one, the question of which camp will have an upper hand in the legislature is self-evident. How can the majority possibly benefit the pan-blue camp if the opposition parties "appear united outwardly but are divided at heart," as the Chinese saying goes?

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