Mon, Dec 05, 2005 - Page 8 News List

DPP spurned for betraying values

By the Liberty Times editorial

The local government elections are over. The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) won 14 constituencies to the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) six. DPP Chairman Su Tseng-tsang (蘇貞昌) is resigning to accept responsibility. The DPP's drubbing is the result of problems with mobilization, nominations and campaign strategies, as well as the public's loss of faith in the DPP government. It should be a wake-up call for the DPP.

The seeds of this defeat were planted long ago, when the party, still in opposition, promised reform, localization and a clean government -- promises it did not deliver after gaining power in 2000. Now that the promises are fading, so is public support for the party.

Before the elections, many DPP supporters said the party had deviated from its founding ideals after it gained power. They add that slogans calling for "reform" and "localization" are only dusted off during elections, while its "active deregulation" policy has seriously damaged Taiwan's economy and prompted a rise in pro-China sentiment. These supporters have now taught the DPP a lesson by not campaigning for candidates, and even abstaining from voting. The party's political future is clearly at risk.

It is true that the DPP's reform effort has suffered from its minority position in the legislature. However, issues that do not need to go through the legislature -- such as the 18 percent preferential interest rate -- were only rushed onto the agenda just prior to the elections, which raises questions about resolve. And for all the talk of reform, the government has focused on deregulating investment in China, pushing a position similar to that held by the KMT and the People First Party (PFP).

The policy has strengthened the opposition's position among undecided voters by making the KMT's and the PFP's idea that Taiwan's hopes lie in China's booming economy appear both natural and unavoidable.

Under the DPP, localization is politically incorrect while active deregulation is politically correct. Top leaders have questioned calls to change Taiwan's national title and write a new constitution, while confirming the active deregulation policy.

The message is that the DPP government is implementing the political and economic policies of the KMT and PFP.

Active deregulation and other policies have meant continued high unemployment and other social problems. Officials concentrate on serving Taiwanese businesspeople in China, reducing local residents to second-rate citizens. What should the public think when the DPP, which used to claim to protect the disadvantaged, now helps create unemployment? It has also opened itself up for criticism from the PFP for both insufficient deregulation and creating poverty.

In recent elections, top DPP leaders have tried to mobilize traditional supporters with calls to change the nation's title and write a new constitution, recitations of "one country on each side of the Taiwan Strait" and giving priority to investing in Taiwan. As soon as the elections are over and the party has its votes, however, promises regarding localization and reform are forgotten and active deregulation rules the day. This is tantamount to asking voters who want the DPP to pursue localization to get on the party's China train. Apart from die-hard DPP supporters, who else do they think they are fooling?

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