Wed, Dec 13, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: KMT is allergic to democracy

When Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Chen Chu (陳菊) narrowly won the Kaohsiung mayoral election on Saturday, the first reaction of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) candidate Huang Chun-ying (黃俊英) was to file a lawsuit seeking to have the result annulled -- a move that appears to have general support in the party.

The KMT's reaction simply proves once again that the party has absolutely no respect whatsoever for the nation's democracy.

A clear pattern has developed in recent years, with the party protesting the result of any important election it loses.

It began with the 2000 presidential election. When the KMT received a thumping following James Soong's (宋楚瑜) decision to split from the KMT and run as an independent, thousands of the party's supporters filled the streets to show their discontent. But it had no one to blame but itself.

The trend continued with weeks of protests following the KMT's narrow presidential defeat in 2004, when the election-eve shooting of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was blamed for the loss -- a result the party has yet to accept despite the failure of its various legal challenges.

To that list add Kaohsiung 2006.

Maybe this is why the pan-blue camp has come to be known as the "refuse to lose crowd" by certain sections of the US diplomatic community, including former American Institute in Taiwan chairwoman Therese Shaheen, who wrote about it in a Wall Street Journal article on Nov. 8.

When was the last time a KMT figure stood up and accepted defeat graciously or even lauded Taiwan's democratic achievements?

The party's total disdain for democracy can be seen in the way it has systematically undermined the leadership of its popularly elected chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) since he took office last year.

And the KMT's decision to establish a working relationship with the authoritarian Chinese Communist Party further demonstrates its contempt for the nation's democratic system.

It was former president and KMT chairman Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) who was responsible for introducing popular presidential elections to Taiwan, and he was unceremoniously dumped from the party following the KMT's 2000 presidential defeat.

Certain sections of the party's old guard are so unwilling to accept defeat that they would happily bring back one-party authoritarian rule tomorrow if they thought they could get away with it.

The KMT's strategy of trying to make Saturday's elections a plebiscite on the integrity of its chairman and the president failed. For whatever reasons, voters showed that politicians getting their fingers caught in the cash register wasn't enough for them to change their political affiliation.

So instead of blaming their Kaohsiung defeat on faulty ballot-counting and vote-buying accusations, the KMT should start looking at the reasons why the majority of voters in the south continue to reject them.

The KMT needs to put two and two together and work out why the popularity it enjoyed during the Lee era has vanished.

But it won't.

The party's troubles stem from arrogance, an inability to believe it is wrong and a reluctance to examine unpopular policy platforms and revise them accordingly -- all of which are critical to democratic success.

Only when it does this will it be able to stop calling into question the integrity of the nation's democratic institutions and instead make them work in the party's favor.

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