In the aftermath of Saturday’s special municipality elections, the US government should establish new links with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), a forum in Washington has been told.
Randy Schriver, president of the Project 2049 Institute and an expert on Taiwan, said that the DPP had shown its “strength and viability,” which has implications for the US.
At a Heritage Foundation discussion on the elections, Schriver said: “The US government needs to pay some attention to the potential return to power of the DPP.”
He said he was not making a partisan statement, but rather that he was basing his recommendations on what happened the last time the DPP was in power.
Schriver said that many senior political leaders in the US did not understand the DPP, its motivations or its core interests.
“And that led to some difficulties,” he said.
If the DPP should come to power again, the US should be careful not to repeat the mistakes it made in the past, Schriver said.
He said that Saturday’s voting suggested there was a possibility that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) could be defeated in the 2012 presidential election and that the possibility “should be taken seriously.”
Ho Szu-yin (何思因), a former national security adviser and Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政), president of the Taiwan Brain Trust, analyzed the poll results, which saw the DPP win the most votes overall, while the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) won three of the five mayoral seats.
The elections will “have a major impact on Taiwan’s 2012 presidential race with all that entails for US-Taiwan and cross-Straits [sic] relations,” Heritage said in a statement.
Both Ho and Lo said the DPP had made an “impressive” comeback from the defeat it suffered in the 2004 presidential election. Lo said that the party had given a “great performance” and that “the KMT did not win and the DPP did not lose.”
Given the DPP’s “strong showing,” the KMT will now increase its interest in strengthening the US-Taiwan relationship, Schriver said.
“One of the charges from the green camp has been that the KMT has been going too far and too fast with China and not paying enough attention to traditional friends like the US and Japan,” he said.
As a result of the just demonstrated “domestic political dynamic,” KMT policies could be modified as the 2012 presidential election grows near, he said.
He added: “We in Washington are non-partisan and neutral in these affairs, but it is no secret that Beijing is not ... They have a preferred outcome for 2012.”
While he did not actually say it, he was clearly referring to a Chinese preference for the KMT over the DPP.
Schriver said that following the election, Taipei might push for more interaction with the US, while Beijing might create more tensions.
“This would return us to a more traditional state of affairs,” he said.