For next year's presidential election, the two major political camps' approaches mirror the bipolarization of their views regarding Taiwan's future.
With four contenders vying for the prized spot to represent the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the party launched a primary process that could be at least setting new standards for Taiwan's politics -- if not quite worthy of a mature democracy.
For the first time, a presidential primary-election debate took place publicly with a panel of political experts firing pointed questions at each DPP hopeful. Most important, there were follow-up questions to nail down specifics.
For a party that's notorious for its unsuccessful candidates' propensity to bolt, this primary should provide a window into the extent democratic values have taken root in the DPP.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) obviously doesn't share the DPP's enthusiasm for treasuring the presidential election as Taiwan's most important democratic process.
For the KMT, democracy seems but an inconvenience to be finessed. As a consequence, democracy got tossed out of the window the instant the party's interests were threatened.
Former chairman Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) presidential candidacy was by and large a foregone conclusion until he was indicted for embezzling special account funds. That moment marked the end of a period of more than a year during which the KMT flirted with democracy internally. No sooner had Ma's indictment been handed down than the pan-blue camp became unhinged.
At a recent political rally, a look-alike of the late dictator Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) stood benevolently next to Ma. If this bizarre scene made the hair on most Taiwanese necks stand on end, Ma's speech glorifying the "accomplishments" of Chiang while characterizing the dictator's handling of the 228 Incident and the White Terror as mere "blemishes" could only make them ill.
Further buttressed therefore is the suggestion that the KMT is living in a make-believe world -- the obvious rub to the party's constant insistence on the physical existence of a Republic of China that encompasses today's China, Taiwan and Mongolia.
This is but one of the numerous "highlights" of Ma and company's outrageous behavior following Ma's fall from grace.
Within hours of Ma unleashing a shockwave by signaling his intention to run for the presidency as the response to his legal woes, the KMT's Central Steering Committee rushed through a resolution to rescind an anti-corruption rule which, as a twist of fate, was originally designed by Ma to deprive party members of the right to hold public office while under indictment for corruption.
The resolution preserves Ma's chance to be the party's presidential candidate. But the pan-blue's fixation on Ma's candidacy doesn't stop there.
Intending to forestall future obstacles, the KMT is mulling the possibility of amending the party charter to do away with the "conviction intolerance" rule. Ma did his part to encourage this by announcing that a criminal conviction would not deter his candidacy.
In the meantime, the pan-blue camp in the legislature has been trying to push through a law that would legitimatize Ma's alleged theft of public funds by legislating retroactively those funds as part of his salary.
Even more treacherously, this year's government budget is being held hostage by the pan-blue legislators in an attempt to force through a bill that would change the composition of the Central Election Commission to ensure its partisan bias towards the pan-blue presidential candidate.