Fri, Jan 17, 2020 - Page 8 News List

The ‘third force’ sings a familiar, tired tune

By Jiang Fang-yu 江芳瑜

“Third force” is commonly used to refer to parties outside the conventional blue-green dichotomy in Taiwanese politics. However, it is not an entirely accurate term, as it ignores a defining issue in the realm of politics here.

Behind each political term lies an implied context. Politics is a means to ensure that society progresses in the right direction, and a political analysis of these changes and the resolution of political problems are necessary for Taiwan to thrive. This is analogous to a medical diagnosis, a determination made on the nature of a patient’s illness following a meticulous scientific evaluation.

To correct a political issue and its causes, understand its true nature, and then the problem and how to address it is revealed.

Referring to small parties that do not fall into the pan-blue or pan-green camps as a “third force” carries with it two main problems, precisely because of the political context behind the term.

First, it is an implicit acknowledgement of the existence of pro-China political parties, such as the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), which is aligned with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and has an authoritarian structure. Should such parties be allowed in Taiwan when they align with an external threat?

Second, “third force” suggests that it is not a traditional political entity. If voters have lost faith in the festering offerings from the pan-blue and pan-green camps, is it necessarily the case that a third force would represent something more palatable? Is it the answer to the nation’s political problems?

If Taiwan is to divest itself of its problematic political legacy, it needs a second political force to operate alongside the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), possibly as an even more vociferously pro-Taiwan force resisting China’s influence. This would robustly manifest people’s rejection of Beijing’s intimidation.

As long as the KMT remains the main opposition party, the power transitions inherent in a democratic electoral cycle would see regular returns to periods in which people are concerned about the nation’s sovereignty, as Beijing helps the pro-China parties in every major election.

There are 224 political parties in Taiwan, with as many as 98 — more than 43 percent — advocating unification with China.

The sense that the nation’s sovereignty is under siege was not only apparent during the elections on Saturday, it is something that recurs every election season.

Taiwan needs more stringently pro-localization, anti-CCP parties on the ballot, not a “third force” that sees a market niche for itself by virtue of being neither blue nor green, and which indiscriminately courts favor with the US and China.

The most rapid progress for Taiwan’s democracy was made in the 1990s, when then-president Lee Teng-hui’s (李登輝) administration was the dominant localization force, complemented by the DPP. The two parties worked together and democracy surged. Today’s DPP has taken on the role previously performed by the KMT under Lee’s leadership, but which party is going to step up and work with the DPP to resist external interference?

A “third force” cannot bring Taiwan the relief it needs. Only a supplementary pro-localization force that can engage in healthy competition and cooperation with the governing party would be able to overturn the current situation in which Beijing is constantly interfering in Taiwanese politics.

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