That Su and Tsai managed to win the favor of independent voters in Taipei and Sinbei City, both traditional pan-blue strongholds, shows that their softer and more rational reform line is worth pursuing to the fullest. The DPP should view the latest election results as proof that they have a chance to regain power. Although the DPP lost by a small margin in Taichung, it was encouraging.
After only a half a year in the region, Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) was still able to win such a surprising number of votes. This is unprecedented. The DPP cannot keep thinking that things would have been different if certain things had not happened, because in the final analysis, voters gave Su and the entire green camp a great opportunity. As long as the green camp keeps accepting challenges, they will be able to succeed. Anything short of this would be failing to live up to the hopes of Taiwanese.
A look at changes in the makeup of the parties’ political bases around Taiwan shows that while the KMT managed to save face by keeping their hold on Taipei and Sinbei cities, they only just managed to hold on to Taichung. They will now have to change the pace of their cross-strait policies, which have been moving way too fast. The results showed the KMT that they will have to be more respectful of public opinion and think more carefully about their policies.
The KMT has lost the confidence of voters very quickly and apart from experiencing huge losses in the number of voters in their -traditional strongholds, this was also the first time the DPP and the KMT tied in the city councilor elections, with both camps walking away with 130 seats each.
In the borough chief elections, the green camp experienced a large increase, gaining 220 seats, while support for blue camp borough chiefs shrunk greatly to a total of 1,194 seats. The number of independent borough chiefs made a huge jump to 2,343 seats, which clearly shows a collective loosening in the foundations of the blue camp. This is a major warning that Ma will not be able to easily turn around by merely employing slogans like “Let’s Unite” and “Reform and Democracy.” For example, that somebody fired a gun at a public election rally implies that the thunderbolt anti-crime project (霹靂掃黑專案) the government has been carrying out in recent months has been a waste of time.
The changes in public support for the DPP and the KMT will also be important indicators for future legislative and presidential elections. Beijing will of course pay close attention to these indicators when considering pubic opinion in Taiwan. If we follow the views of China’s Taiwan experts that the pan-blue camp is more neutral and the pan-green camp more pro-independence, the Chinese government will have to increase their study and understanding of the DPP many times over.
As late Dutch historian Pieter Geyl said: “History is an argument without end.”
Now we will just have to wait and see how Taiwan’s political parties respond to the situation.
Lu I-ming is the former publisher and president of Taiwan Shin Sheng Daily News.
TRANSLATED BY DREW CAMERON