Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) recent selection as the party’s candidate for next year’s presidential election represents a generational transition and demonstrates how the DPP is improving itself and moving further away from the outdated and continuously regressing Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).
The ideals of the new generation are not entirely removed from the previous generation of leaders, but it is more focused on how to attain its ideals. Their different experiences mean that the new generation has a different style from the revolutionaries and “individual heroes” of the previous generation.
The subject of Tsai’s actions is not “I,” but “we.” Tsai is not bragging about what “she” can do for the DPP or Taiwan; rather, she is saying let “us” work together and contribute to Taiwan.
The DPP elders all have a background in the democratization movement, which they joined after suffering injustices during the KMT’s authoritarian rule that must have left deep emotional scars. It is normal for individual heroes to appear in such opposition movements, but a democratic political party that wants to rule must rely on unity and work together for a common goal.
The main players from the democratization movement era lacked opportunities to deal with international affairs. While they are not totally lacking when it comes to understanding the complex international environment Taiwan finds itself in, the new generation has mostly received a Western education and has had firsthand experience of mature Western democracies. It is more familiar with the decision-making processes of democratic governments and is better equipped in its capacity of holding power and carrying out reform.
The DPP’s basic nature and the ideals and actions of its new generation offer a stark contrast to the actions of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and the KMT’s return to authoritarian leanings. The DPP emphasizes democracy and equality, while the KMT focuses on authority and domination.
The new generation of DPP leaders does not discriminate based on geographical location or gender and it is concerned with developing a society based on fair competition and looking after disadvantaged groups. Ma’s KMT, on the other hand, seems to be returning to its old Leninist ways.
The DPP has had a female vice president and now has a female presidential candidate, while the KMT continues to view women as mere decoration who are only there to meet quotas. The DPP nominated a presidential candidate based on fair competition, whereas Ma is the KMT’s only presidential candidate. The subject of nominating someone else was not even allowed to be discussed and all members of the KMT’s Central Standing Committee clapped their hands like children as they approved Ma’s nomination.
Ma’s party-state system is based on a concept of “me doing what I want” — “me” referring to a person who is infected with “eventual unification” disease, who is incompetent and who acts against the public will.
The new generation of the DPP uses the word “us” to refer to Taiwan as a nation, demonstrating a recognition of it, as well as our link to this land. It hopes to unite Taiwan and establish a democratic nation based on fair competition.
With one party embodying a return to dictatorship and one representing the advancement of democracy, the KMT and DPP are as different as chalk and cheese.