Misjudging the mood of the country and under pressure from the Democratic Progres-sive Party (DPP), the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) managed to retain its 12 seats in last month's legislative elections. To make matters worse, this poor showing was followed by internal conflict which required the intervention of former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝). Now that the new TSU chairman and secretary-general have taken office, we hope the party leaders can learn something from their electoral failure in order not to fail the Taiwanese people as well as Lee, the "spiritual founder" of the TSU.
The TSU has a unique value in the nation's political scene. As a minority government, whenever the DPP feels awkward or cannot publicly express certain positions or ideas, the TSU can pitch in and help.
In addition, as the DPP tries to move to the center of the political spectrum to enlarge its electoral base, the TSU can maintain the support of the dark-green electorate.
But if the TSU continues its close alliance with the DPP, it is likely to become marginalized and fizzle out. The TSU, therefore, should adjust its role and redefine its position in the political scene.
First, the TSU has to differentiate itself from the DPP. It also has to remain firm on its ideals such as writing a new constitution, correcting the country's name and creating a new Taiwan so that the cause for promoting Taiwan awareness will continue to prevail.
By doing so, the TSU may help the DPP accomplish the mission of winning over moderates, playing the same role as Lee in localizing the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to gain the support of those moderates, who account for 50 percent of the electorate.
Second, the TSU has to consolidate the support of pan-green fundamentalists and collaborate with various civic groups to push different agendas, strengthening its image as a party willing to champion reform. Its position should be similar to that of the DPP and the tangwai (outside the KMT) movement in the early days. If the TSU does this, it should be able to garner 20 to 25 percent of the vote (which is the lowest that the DPP achieved in any national election).
Internally, the TSU has to unite party members, develop its organizational skill, deepen its grass-roots support, place stress on its party image and integrity and promote its ideals.
No matter how the political scene evolves and how relations between the DPP, the KMT and the People First Party play out, the TSU has to maintain its role as a "loyal" opposition party in order to supervise the DPP's policy implementation and support the DPP on its localization stance.
When interacting with the DPP, the TSU only has to appear firm with its own position. It should avoid aggressively taking on the DPP so that the public does not sense that these two parties are quarreling.
The realization of such ideals as localization and truth, proposed by Lee, are backed by Taiwan Advocates, the Association of Friends of Lee Teng-hui and the TSU, the latter playing the most active role.
Only if the TSU continues to build on its strengths and put pressure on the DPP can the nation keep making great strides forward.
Only then will will the day come when Lee's goal of having 75 percent of Taiwan's people identify with the notion of Taiwanese consciousness. Therefore, the TSU leadership should give serious consideration to how this can be brought about.