Sun, Jul 21, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Taiwanese should vote for issues, not parties

By Tzou Jiing-Wen 鄒景雯

In the run-up to the 2012 presidential election, there was a lot of noise about voting, even if it meant “holding back the tears, hate and blood,” because there was no good alternative. It was a typical public manifestation of long-term domestication by an authoritarian regime — a slave mentality and a willingness to serve politicians.

When Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was re-elected for a second presidential term, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) also maintained its legislative majority, but the question remains: What did he accomplish?

No longer having to pretend, no longer being tied down by re-election concerns and being able to do only what he wanted, he set off the 2014 Sunflower movement. From that moment on, he was a lame duck, and in 2016, he handed the presidency and the legislature to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

This shows that when voters willingly offer themselves up as hostages, they take everything else with them.

Taiwan is again preparing for elections. Politicians are preparing for a fight and asking people to vote for them.

What they should ask themselves is: Now that candidates and voters have accumulated all these years of democratic experience, are things any better?

When the KMT announced the winner of its presidential primary, the question that presented itself was whether the losers should have stood back up for the next round or accepted defeat. This should not have been an issue, but the reason the political situation is fluctuating is that most people do not expect it to be resolved so easily.

Let those elite politicians who only care about grabbing power worry about political party dynamics. If everyone looked at improving understanding of democracy, and deepening and consolidating its implementation, party affiliations and the recent political mobilization orders to only support this or that candidate could just be ignored.

Taiwanese should look at each candidate’s overall policy direction and their ability to implement it. Since that means ignoring the party and person, and focusing on real issues, there would be no need to vote while “holding back the tears, hate and blood.” Instead, a person would simply vote for the issues they agree with and ignore the rest.

Based on the needs of independent voters, politicians who want to serve and have the confidence to do so, could well promote themselves and make another attempt at competing to promote rights that the public finds acceptable and would vote for with a smile on their lips.

Those with vested interests who decide the game rules will uphold party politics and the preliminary election procedure while advocating sportsmanship, but this is based on a premise of fairness, impartiality and general acceptance.

If a minority of people think they have a monopoly on setting the rules and that everyone must accept those rules, or if the contestants in the process discover inappropriate interference — whether by external or internal forces — there are of course ways to deal with this.

One way is to deal with it personally. It is essential to be fully prepared for everything, to have made the necessary estimates and to be ready to go, while at the same time enjoying support from society at large.

Many aspects of Taiwan’s implementation of democracy can be criticized, so who is to say that there will not be a radical transformation. Free competition will bring political advancement; this is true regardless of political affiliation.

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