Wed, Oct 08, 2008 - Page 8 News List

DPP needs to look over its record

By Lin Cho-Shui 林濁水

After losses in the legislative and presidential elections, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) celebrated its 22nd anniversary on Sept. 28. With the onslaught of Super Typhoon Jangmi and the persistent financial scandal surrounding former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), it was not a good time to celebrate.

The DPP rose out of political and social movements in the 1980s. It has governed the nation and been voted out of office. At the age of 22, it is time to take stock and ask what the DPP has done for the nation.

These 22 years can be divided into four stages: The frenzied years from 1986 until 1992; the period of opposition, which began with the first free legislative elections in 1992; the eight-year Chen Shui-bian presidency; and the stage that began in May when Chen’s second term ended.

As a party representing the disadvantaged, the DPP promoted four main ideals when it started out: democracy, Taiwanese independence, caring for the disadvantaged and clean government. Before 1992, the DPP devoted all its efforts to breaking the ban on political parties and it played an instrumental role by influencing the election of the full legislature and direct presidential elections.

The establishment of the farmers insurance system and the movements for workers’ rights, the environment, educational rights and Aboriginal and women’s rights released the power of society from its shackles. The Taiwanese independence movement opened a new avenue for national identification.

The full-scale legislative elections resulted in direct presidential elections, abolition of the provincial government and welfare allowances for senior citizens and senior farmers. By the end of the 1990s, Taiwanese independence had entered mainstream opinion, thus laying the foundation for Chen’s election victory in 2000.

After Chen’s presidency, however, the anti-corruption slogans lost credibility, and even the contributions to democracy and Taiwanese independence seem to have shrunk. The eight years Chen was in office were permeated by bitter political battles between the DPP and the pan-blue camp. The DPP even initiated the preposterous constitutional amendment that cut the number of legislative seats in half. This proposal was eventually passed as a result of democratic developments.

During his first four years in office, Chen led Taiwan away from independence based on the “four noes and one not” policy. During the last four years, he took rash and premature steps toward independence and implemented more aggressive diplomatic tactics.

Both approaches were detrimental to Taiwanese independence. This was a strange situation and difficult to imagine. All the party’s contributions to democracy and Taiwanese independence occurred before it came to power, while everything it did once in power had a negative affect on these goals.

The power transfer in 2000 created an opportunity for people with ability and ideals to enter the political system and start to put their dreams into action. While the president and the leading DPP politicians focused all their energy on political conflict, these talented people put their expertise to use in areas they were not very familiar with.

Looking back today, the most surprising achievements are the establishment of national business policy and a social security system.

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