Sat, Dec 10, 2005 - Page 8 News List

DPP must view crisis as opportunity

By Lin Wan-i (林萬億)

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has faced four crises since it came to power in 2000.

The first crisis was in 2001 when the nation posted an economic growth rate of -2.18 percent and unemployment rose to 5.17 percent, statistics that were unheard of since Taiwan became a industrialized nation. The second crisis occurred last year when pan-blue supporters took to the streets, denying the legitimacy of President Chen Shui-bian's rule (陳水扁) after he won re-election by a razor-thin margin of less than 30,000 votes -- or 0.228 percent of the vote -- as a result of a failed assassination attempt against him and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮). The third crisis took place last year when the pan-green camp failed to retain a legislative majority in the legislative elections. In a legislature dominated by the pan-blue camp, the government has found it difficult to push ahead with government policy.

Many attempt to ascribe the first crisis to the then international political scene. However, it is also true that there are people in Taiwan who do not regard the DPP as a trustworthy party. A governing party lacking people's trust should seek to convince the doubters of its sincerity by acting with integrity and contributing to the nation. However, voters handed Chen another mandate in last year's presidential elections. Therefore, the DPP was also given a second chance to run the nation. Afterwards, the results of the legislative elections were an indication that people were not satisfied with the DPP's performance. What's worse, the outcome of last Saturday's elections only served to reveal that people have now had enough of the DPP.

Thus, we must find out what went wrong within the DPP.

First, the DPP has failed to uphold its ideals. As an opposition party, the DPP championed independence and democracy and care for disadvantaged groups, clean government, Taiwanese awareness, as well as equality and justice and freedom of speech. In short, it was once a political party with unique characteristics.

Since it came to power, however, it has vacillated over whether it should lean toward the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) or the fundamentalist faction in the pan-green camp in order to become a party accepted by all Taiwanese. However, when the political climate did not allow the DPP to achieve what it aimed at, the party fell into indecision about what it actually stood for.

Second, the DPP is a short-sighted party. When it was not in power, the party endured hardship and enjoyed only limited resources. Unfortunately, it has been acting like a high-roller ever since it came to power, for it now has many political and economic resources at its disposal. What's more, both the Presidential Office and the Executive Yuan as well as different factions within the party have been scrambling for resources, rather than considering how to improve the national political system and reform policy.

If the DPP's leadership take a look at how people voted out the KMT in the 2000 presidential elections, they should be able to come to their senses and realize how short-sighted they have become.

Third, the DPP has ignored policy development. Both the DPP and the government shy away from an effective institute of policy studies. They are only willing to follow their instincts and stick with their known preferences when deciding national affairs, consulting former bureaucrats and governing the nation in a very disorganized manner. Additionally, since academics and experts have almost no say in the creation of government policy, they naturally are not willing to defend it.

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