The past six years have seen a period of rapid political change. The nation's first transfer of power occurred after the 2000 presidential election, when the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lost power after being the ruling party for half a century.
That election dislodged a group of officials who believed they were entitled to a lifelong tenure in the government. After losing power, they have engaged in constant political struggle.
During the past two years, the nation has experienced a dark period in which the media has effecttively ruled the country. Sensationalist media outlets and ambitious politicians joined forces to launch irresponsible accusations, groundless and unproven "revelations," and personal attacks on officials. This has created a virtual "society of opposition," in which groups have become enemies.
The media barrage has painted a sad picture of the country. The reality, however, is that most people are down-to-earth and hard-working and the nation's overall development is gradually heading in the right direction.
But after the Taipei and Kaohsiung mayoral elections, this atmosphere of unease should begin to fade away. The election results clearly show that society's most urgent desire is for political stability. Voters expect politicians' statements and actions to be consistent and to represent the interests of the public.
Politicians should listen to the public's desire for stability as expressed through the vote. Taiwanese want politicians to call an end to power struggles and obey the absolute democratic principle that minority parties must accept majority rule.
Taiwanese are not interested in the extreme positions of the two political camps, as evidenced by the gradual shrinking of support for the KMT and the growing inability of the Democratic Progressive Party to push reform.
Politicians must remember that voters do not want them to abuse power. Society expects its elected officials to put effective social, educational and economic policies into effect.
The neutral political force that is forming in Taiwan is like the light at the end of a dark tunnel. It gives Taiwan a chance to improve its political situation and improve its position in the world.
James Chan is a professor in the College of Public Health at National Taiwan University.
Translated by Eddy Chang