Thu, May 30, 2019 - Page 8 News List

Taiwan, China factors in elections

By Chang Kuo-tsai 張國財

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) made sweeping gains in the 2014 elections for mayors and county commissioners, but suffered a heavy defeat in last year’s local government polls.

In 2016, the DPP easily won the presidency, along with more than 60 percent of the seats in the legislature, yet its outlook for next year’s presidential and legislative elections is highly uncertain.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Vice Chairman Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) served two four-year terms as mayor of Taipei from 2006 to 2014, but in 2015 he could not even get elected as a legislator in Keelung.

People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) has shaken hands and talked with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) and Russian President Vladimir Putin, but this did nothing to raise his status in Taiwan. On the contrary, his party lost strength in the following elections.

As for former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the KMT, 70 days after his “meeting of the century” with Xi in Singapore on Nov. 7, 2015, the KMT lost the presidency and its legislative seats fell from 64 to 35.

The tides of democracy are turning faster than ever before. Electoral swings are faster and bigger, and political stars fade faster, too.

These election reversals might seem hard to explain, but there are underlying reasons.

One of those is the Taiwan factor. Needless to say, the voters in Taiwan’s elections are Taiwanese, so elections cannot be won without getting the Taiwanese on your side.

It is no use paying lip service to this land and its people when elections come around. One has to keep them in mind at all times and give them top priority.

The culture of political parties in Taiwan is such that both of the two main parties always talk about “Taiwan” and “the people” at election time, but when the elections are over they both neglect Taiwan’s future and the public’s well-being.

They might differ in their degree of neglect and how blatantly they share the booty, but voters clearly loathe this political culture altogether.

Voters have repeatedly sent a crystal-clear message to politicians who fail to mend their ways: that parties are usually defeated not by their opponents, but by themselves.

This was equally true of the 2014, 2016 and last year’s elections, and those who understand this pattern are trying to stop it from happening again next year.

Modern voters are becoming less patient, and it is common for them to quickly shift from enthusiasm to disappointment. Politicians’ shelf lives are getting shorter.

Politicians might think they can trap people into voting for them, even with tears in their eyes because there is no better choice, but it is getting harder to turn this daydream into reality.

Neither of the two main parties can muster the courage and wisdom to get out of the mire of the nation’s degenerate “political party culture.”

This failure has left voters with no choice but to repeatedly swing between them in the hope of spurring the “soy-sauce vat” of political culture to be thoroughly transformed, be it willingly or by force.

The second reason is the China factor. Cross-strait relations can float a ship, but they can also sink it. Until the day comes when the Chinese Communist Party’s one-party rule and Xi’s personal dictatorship have been completely overturned, any China dreams would be just pie in the sky.

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