The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has adopted a variety of pan-blue voter exclusion measures in the public opinion polls used to determine the nominations for its legislators-at-large, legislators and presidential candidate in the year-end legislative elections and next year's presidential election. This decision will affect who is nominated and it will also affect the power of the party's technically dissolved factions. More bluntly, it will have a direct impact on the DPP's intra-party democracy.
Be it the election of the party chairperson and representatives, revisions to the party platform or charter, or the nomination of party election candidates, support from party members, representatives or supporters should be required. In this regard, the pan-blue exclusion measure has been endorsed as the standard for intra-party democracy by the DPP's Central Standing Committee and Central Executive Committee.
Still, "intra-party democracy" must not conflict with the rights of party members, ethnic groups and social classes as stated in Article 7 of Constitution -- which states that, "All citizens of the Republic of China, irrespective of sex, religion, race, class, or party affiliation, shall be equal before the law."
First, the DPP's primary for the legislator-at-large nomination list, which will adopt a high degree of pan-blue exclusion, is a deliberate attempt to prevent Shen Fu-hsiung (沈富雄), Lo Wen-chia (羅文嘉) and Fan Sun-lu (范巽綠) -- who find support among moderate voters and some pan-blue supporters -- from being nominated.
However, all DPP members should be considered equal regardless of whether they are considered deep-green warriors or someone who has betrayed the party.
The restrictions imposed by the pan-blue exclusion measure appear aimed at ensuring that future legislators-at-large will serve "the whole party" rather than the whole nation. This would breach the constitutional principle of equality between people with different political opinions -- and by extension between Mainlanders and Taiwanese -- since both light greens and light blues also have the right to choose whether or not to identify with the DPP.
Since the DPP's primary for legislators-at-large is also 50 percent based on a vote by party members, those who control a large number of members -- mostly wealthy, deep-green supporters -- can dictate the primary results and thus make sure that the trio mentioned above are not nominated.
The DPP appears to have abandoned its founding spirit, discarding localization, democracy and anti-corruption platforms. Because swing voters cannot be said to be pro-localization and because staunch deep-green supporters are planning to adopt a high degree pan-blue exclusionary measure, democracy and anti-corruption are being eroded.
Second, the DPP's primary for the regular legislator nomination list, which will adopt a moderate degree of pan-blue exclusionary measures, appeals to those who identify themselves with the DPP rather than individual candidates.
The strange thing is that the DPP's presidential primary is going to adopt a low degree of pan-blue exclusionary measures in public opinion polls in the hope that the winning candidate will come out ahead by attracting swing voters as well as those who identify themselves with the DPP.
What seems controversial is that since the future legislators and president will be elected from single-member districts, why would certain voters be excluded from participating in the opinion polls that help the DPP select its legislative candidates?
Looking at the issue in procedural terms, the DPP's primaries should follow the same standards when it comes to excluding pan-blue voters to meet the game rules the party has set for its internal power. Since both the legislative and presidential elections use a single-member district system but incorporate some degree of pan-blue exclusionary measures, does the DPP believe that its legislative and presidential candidates are not on an equal footing?
The DPP's move is clearly a throwback to the feudal era.
And not only that. Given the DPP's adoption of a moderate degree of pan-blue exclusionary measures in its legislative candidate opinion polls it is questionable whether its candidates -- apart from relying on their identification with the party -- will be able to attract a majority of moderate voters.
What's more, if the DPP attempts to create a "Chen Ming-wen" (陳明文) effect -- named after the former KMT member who defected to the DPP following the 2002 mayoral and county commissioner elections -- how will they be able to adopt both moderate pan-blue exclusionary measures and a moderate pan-blue welcoming approach to attract potential pan-blue renegades?
Since attracting pan-blue renegades requires a moderate pan-blue welcoming approach, the DPP should be fishing for pan-blue rather than pan-green swing voters.
True internal democracy requires coming up with game rules that better match the party's characteristics.
If the DPP wants to remain the catch-all-party it claims to be in its party charter, it shouldn't try to exclude pan-blues and attract only green voters. To do so would stifle fundamental equality among party members, ethnic groups and social classes, while abandoning the party's localization, democracy and anti-corruption line.
Chen Chao-chien is an assistant professor at Ming Chuan University's department of public affairs.
Translated by Daniel Cheng
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