Having lost the presidential election on Jan. 14, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is now analyzing the reasons for its defeat. A report is expected at the end of this month.
Outgoing DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has said she thinks the party should review its performance in a scientific and professional way, thereby identifying the obstacles that need to be overcome to secure electoral victory in the future.
It is often said that “success has many fathers; failure is an orphan.” Although success is always easier to deal with, losers still need to analyze the reasons for failure. This may be a tough task, but it is absolutely unavoidable.
Regardless of how many causes are ultimately identified for the DPP’s defeat, chief responsibility lies with the party itself, not the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), nor the wider social environment.
For the DPP the review is an important display of political intent because it is essential that the party honestly and openly discusses its failure to win the presidential election.
After winning re-election, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said he stayed at home over the Lunar New Year holiday to contemplate his mistakes and why the KMT failed to repeat its landslide victory of 2008. Following this period of “contemplation” he said at a weekly KMT meeting that local governments had tried to take all the credit for the central government’s investments in southern Taiwan, adding that it was necessary to step up the dissemination of information to counter such claims.
It is surprising that a newly re-elected president would feel the need to draw such a distinction between central and local government, divide the nation into north and south, and pigeonhole people as pan-blue or pan-green.
Does that mean that Ma is president of just the 6.89 million people who voted for him, and that those who did not can choose to not recognize his presidency?
Clearly his talk of contemplation is just hot air, with nothing to back it up. Only through honest contemplation and introspection can one expect to win the respect of others. A leader who is capable of only seeing the faults of others has little credibility.
This should serve as a warning to the DPP to avoid making the same mistakes as Ma. If it wants to retain public support, the party review needs to start by asking how the DPP can do better next time.
Perhaps it would help to characterize party organization as a series of concentric circles.
After four years as DPP chairperson, dominating its direction and use of resources, Tsai has a great deal of power and so finds herself at the center of the first circle. In the second circle we find those closest to the center of power. The people in the third circle have less power, and as the circles grow in size, so the access to power and influence diminishes.
Based on the idea that there should be a balance between power and responsibility, most people would accept that the more power you have, the more responsibility you must accept.
If the DPP is to draw any lessons from its defeat — particularly as it appeared to have a good chance of winning at one point — it needs a foundation on which to continue to build for the future.
If the party fails to take advantage of this opportunity, then the next election is likely to end the same way. In order to move forward, the DPP must start over again.