Thu, Dec 23, 2004 - Page 8 News List

DPP suffers from a bad case of conformism

By Wu Jieh-min吳介民

The blue camp could hardly hide its excitement after winning the elections, while the green camp suffered a defeat, surprisingly losing over 2.2 million votes compared to the March presidential election. The green camp therefore pointed its fingers at its highest leader. With his unique campaign style, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) vowed to win a majority of seats, but his goal for "complete rule" (全面執政) has been frustrated. How can we explain such an election outcome? Was it a result of moderate voters abandoning the green camp?

Perhaps the best explanation is that it was a result of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) supporters' protest against Chen's political line, as they were in fact dissatisfied with the changeable and inconsistent style of his leadership, as well as the DPP's incapacity to push for reforms.

Thus, the problem lies in Chen's sincerity and ability to implement policies. Although he is very good at stimulating emotional recognition through abstract political rhetoric, the trick has been overused. The exaggerated words are leading to a crisis for his political credibility. Looking back at his public support after coming to power in 2000, his handling of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant made us feel that he dared not take responsibility for a major policy like this, and his support ratings dropped below 40 percent for the first time.

Later, when the nation's first-ever referendum on national security failed, Chen, the initiator of the referendum, made no comment, as if those who supported it had to take responsibility on their own. But he did not learn from this, as his exaggerated campaign remarks this time pushed the US to claim that Taiwan is not an independent sovereign state. What a significant strike against the public's morale that was.

Again and again, those in power repeatedly wear away their reformist image established ever since the dangwai movement (outside the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)) movement and abuse those firm supporters of Taiwan's democratization. The green camp's loss of votes this time was a blow for failing to keep its promises on reforms.

Over the past few years, a ridiculous comment can often be heard: no one inside the DPP can take responsibility for the stagnancy of reforms but Chen himself. This is absurd! Is he the only one who is running the nation? Do the party's high-level officials dare not advise him? Isn't there any internal force of restraint?

Some say that outspoken DPP Legislator Shen Fu-hsiung's (沈富雄) failure to be re-elected actually highlighted the fact that good advice sounds harsh to the ears, while most party members are "as silent as cicadas in winter," as the Chinese saying goes.

Why has this "winter cicada effect" occurred inside the once self-critical party? The problem is due to party members' "conformism" -- their collective conformity in thought and belief. Today, the party's priority is to continue to stay in power, and the premise for this priority is to win elections. Since Chen is considered an election genius, everyone follows his lead. This is not only voluntary obedience but also collective irresponsibility, as the green camp is cutting its own throat.

Those who calmly support democracy are watching, those who have sacrificed themselves for democracy are condemning, and those who miss authoritarian rule in the past are laughing -- because the DPP has not long ago lost the word "progressive" from its name.

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