Sun, May 13, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Will a new resolution save the DPP?

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is busy crafting a new resolution on "making Taiwan a normal country" to replace the party's existing "Resolution on Taiwan's Future." The proposal, together with the current resolution and its predecessor -- the "Taiwan Independence Clause" -- shows just how much the DPP's stance on cross-strait relations and the status of Taiwan has evolved over time.

The Taiwan Independence Clause was the fundamental principle upon which the DPP was founded. The clause underlined the DPP's founding ideals of pursuing independence and statehood for Taiwan. The ultimate goal was to have Taiwan formally declare independence under the name the "Republic of Taiwan." This ideal continues to be embraced and worshipped by many die-hard independence supporters, who view the party's subsequent modification of this stance as a sell-out.

For the party as a whole, modifying its platform on cross-strait relations was a hard but inevitable choice. Pressured on both sides by China and the US, a majority of Taiwanese feared that a formal declaration of independence would lead to war in the Taiwan Strait, and therefore preferred the so-called "status quo."

Just what exactly the "status quo" is is an interesting question, since it has kept on evolving. Taiwan's political "status quo" today is very different from that of decades ago. Simply put, preserving the "status quo" means Taiwan continuing to act as an independent country without calling itself such. The question is how long can Taiwan maintain this "status quo."

To implement and turn many of its ideals into reality, the DPP had to be elected to power first. Therefore, in 1999, the party passed the "Resolution on Taiwan's Future," which acknowledges that Taiwan is already an independent country called the "Republic of China."

That was a major but essential compromise in the face of public concern over what would happen if the DPP's presidential candidate, Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), was elected in 2000. Speculation was rife then that if Chen were elected, China would invade Taiwan. Through the "Resolution on Taiwan's Future," the DPP essentially promised that it would not unilaterally declare independence and would embrace and protect the "status quo."

While Chen and the DPP's victory in 2000 was the result of an interplay of multiple factors, including presidential aspirant James Soong's (宋楚瑜) split from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), the DPP's "Resolution on Taiwan's Future" played an important role in easing the concerns of moderate voters who chose to cast their lot with Chen.

After more than seven years in power, Chen is nearing the end of his presidency. The DPP faces a tough battle ahead. Although former KMT chairman and Taipei mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is no longer the invincible opponent that everyone thought he would be -- in light of the series of controversies surrounding his alleged misuse of a mayoral special allowance fund -- it would not be an exaggeration to say that the odds are still pretty much against the DPP.

While DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) is a well-respected candidate, he has yet to match the charisma of Ma. Will the new resolution on "making Taiwan a normal country" appeal to the voters now in the way that the "Resolution on Taiwan's Future" appealed to voters then? Only time will tell.

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