Tue, Dec 06, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Building democracy is the priority

Some have said that although last Saturday's local government elections were a debacle for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), they were a major victory for Taiwan's democracy. This is an excellent point. A number of renowned DPP candidates graciously admitted defeat and congratulated their opponents, and managed to contain their disgruntled supporters' emotions after the results were released. Such an attitude prevented a repeat of the chaotic scenes following last year's presidential elections, and indicates that the nation's democracy has matured.

Following the elections, pan-green camp supporters have begun to review why they lost. Instead of blaming the pan-blue camp, they have pointed fingers at the DPP leadership, criticizing the imprudent remarks made by President Chen Shiu-bian (陳水扁) and Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) over the past year. The DPP's courage in conceding defeat and reviewing its performance has lived up to people's expectations of the party. In the end, people cast their votes to remind the DPP that any political party with an ideology rejected by the mainstream is bound to fail at the ballot box.

People should especially praise Luo Wen-chia (羅文嘉), the DPP candidate in Taipei County, its Ilan County candidate Chen Ding-nan (陳定南), and its Chiayi city candidate Chen Li-chen (陳麗貞). Although they all lost, they demonstrated a healthy democratic spirit by calling or visiting their rivals to personally congratulate them on election night, while publicly calling on their supporters not to cause any disturbances. They set a good example for other politicians and deserve the public's praise.

Many corruption cases were uncovered in the lead-up to the vote -- including the Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corp (KRTC) scandal, the excessive bad loans of the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) Taipei County Commissioner-elect Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋) and Kaohsiung County commissioner nominee Lin Yi-shih (林益世), the defamatory VCD against the KMT's Taoyuan County commissioner-elect Chu Li-lun (朱立倫), the disclosure of the medical records of Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) and recent developments in the Lafayette scandal. The judicial branch must hasten its investigations and deal with those who either committed crimes or made false accusations. We must not allow criminals to escape the reach of the law, for this would only encourage more negative campaign tactics in the future.

It doesn't matter much how the ruling party reorganizes in the wake of its defeat. But whatever it does, it should take this opportunity to establish a model of behavior within a democratic system. Democracies are built on the rule of law, and for this reason it is essential that a proper investigation be conducted into all of the disputes that arose during the campaign. The custom of letting accusations drop after the elections should not be continued, for that would encourage more bad behavior in future. Only in this way can we gradually improve the nation's political culture.

President Chen has done a poor job leading the DPP through legislative and local elections, and on both occasions a number of the party's elite were defeated. He should now focus on further consolidating Taiwan's democratic foundations.

In addition to pushing forward probes into allegations raised during the campaign, the DPP should also seek advice from scholars and experts to decide what the nation's government should look like. The nation must settle on whether it will adopt a presidential or Cabinet system, and whether it should have a five-branch or three-branch system of government.

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