Sun, Feb 03, 2008 - Page 8 News List

Pan-greens must unite to keep the presidency

By Hsieh Chih-Lu 謝秩祿

After suffering defeat in last month's legislative elections, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is mending its wounds and reconsolidating support under the leadership of presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷). As the pan-blue camp now controls an absolute majority in the legislature, Hsieh's responsibility is large. He not only must win the presidential election to ensure a political balance over the next four years, he must also prevent the nation's economy from becoming subservient to China's, as has happened with Hong Kong.

These goals are daunting, but not impossible. In the last legislative election, the DPP's support did not decline, but rather rose marginally.

Hence the party's support base remains stable. Furthermore, the presidential election is, after all, different from elections for district legislators.

The new legislature is interested in single-party rule, intimacy with China, and distancing itself from the US.

However, it is difficult to avoid a coattail effect after the crushing DPP defeat in the new electoral system. For the pan-green camp to reorganize and rally around Hsieh will require respect, compromise and intelligent tolerance. In this respect, Hsieh should adopt an open mind and show humility, rather than causing divisiveness.

There must be internal solidarity. The Presidential Office, the legislature and the party can act separately, but they must attack together.

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) is a necessary force for maintaining the pan-green support base. Although Hsieh may distance himself from Chen when it comes to policy issues, he should never consider cutting the bonds with Chen, which would not help him win the election.

At the same time, the Cabinet's performance is crucial to electoral success. It is necessary for them to campaign in order to win public support. The Cabinet is in fact part of the election team and conflict cannot be allowed to arise between the Cabinet and Hsieh's campaign headquarters.

Four years ago, Chen managed to get re-elected mainly because of the unity of pan-green forces. Now there are fears of a divided pan-green camp and Hsieh's major task is to reconcile his party with the Taiwan Solidarity Union and bring other parties onboard to combat the monster that is single-party rule.

In addition to solidarity, the DPP needs to seek out the support of voters under the age of 30. Surveys show that this social group has the strongest Taiwanese consciousness. However, they also lack interest in public issues and serious news.

Furthermore, this group lacks collective memory or basic knowledge of the atrocities under the party-state system and is more likely to be swayed by pan-blue media propaganda. Cabinet Spokesman Shieh Jhy-wey (謝志偉) could help win over this group.

For Hsieh to win the election, pan-green political leaders from Chen, Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) and Hsieh himself to Kaohsiung County Commissioner Yang Chiu-hsing (楊秋興) and others, should speak cautiously to reporters.

The nation's news outlets, controlled by the pan-blue camp, skew the facts and stir up trouble at every opportunity.

Speaking flippantly in front of reporters provides them with an opportunity to sensationalize issues.

The DPP has been repeatedly smeared and distorted by he pan-blue media, without learning their lesson.

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