Fri, Nov 30, 2018 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: Pan-greens must resolve split

Following independent Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je’s (柯文哲) re-election on Saturday by a narrow margin of 3,254 votes, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has been facing calls for renewed cooperation between her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Ko. It is in the DPP’s best interest to give such proposals serious thought.

The 2014 Sunflower movement and Ko’s ensuing emergence as a so-called political neophyte instilled hope in voters that politics could be more than the nonstop bickering between the two main political parties that had kept many from participating in politics because “the DPP and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) are equally bad.”

Ko and candidates from some smaller parties that sprouted after the Sunflower movement embodied that hope. That hope likely inspired voters to make the unusual decision in the 2014 nine-on-one elections to choose values -— such as democracy, equality, government transparency, transitional justice and national sovereignty — over pragmatism.

Compared with its archrival, the KMT, which has made economic growth its main selling point, the DPP has painted itself as a driver and defender of values. Values are difficult to sell, but once people buy into them, they will hold the seller to the highest standard.

However, values are vague and only when they are transformed into policies do people know whether they like what they voted for.

For instance, transitional justice, which aims to ensure a level playing field for all political parties, might sound appealing on paper, but in reality what people have been seeing over the past few years is the Executive Yuan’s Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee freezing the KMT’s assets, with the KMT claiming political persecution and constantly taking the committee’s decisions to court.

Some might understand that these processes are all necessary before transitional justice can be achieved, but others might only see chaos, and start to question whether transitional justice is just and what society needs.

The DPP’s “value-centered” platform also did not sell this time because the party made too many compromises on, or even abandoned, some of the values it had promised voters it would pursue.

Marriage equality is no doubt among these promises. The Tsai administration’s decision to give in to pressure from retired military personnel and drop its more drastic pension reform proposal for the group, as well as its decision to execute a death-row inmate in August, ending a two-year de facto moratorium on capital punishment, disappointed many supporters.

The DPP’s falling-out with Ko and the New Power Party (NPP) were also seen by younger pan-green supporters as a sign that the party is self-interested and is willing to turn its back on its partners when their interests do not align.

The pan-green camp might pay a steep price for a continued split, given that the KMT controlling the majority of cities and counties could make the nation even more vulnerable to Chinese interference and significantly increase the unification-leaning party’s chance of winning the 2020 presidential race.

Despite their minor ideological differences, the DPP, other pan-green parties and Ko should let go of their grievances and focus on the big picture. More important matters are at stake.

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