Mon, Jan 30, 2012 - Page 3 News List

ANALYSIS: No full democracy, academics say

IT’S COMPLICATED:Although Taiwan has been making steady progress on the road to full democratization, it is still being influenced by several factors, academics say

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff Reporter

With this approach, “China has had a strong bearing on the livelihood of too many Taiwanese,” he said.

The election result reflected the public’s worries over the disappearance of “peace dividends” under a DPP government whose “Taiwan consensus” — that allows for independence — was unacceptable against the so-called “1992 consensus” — equivalent to the acceptance of a one-China platform, Chang said.

People who have enjoyed the dividends or expect to enjoy more of them voted to ensure their interests and to prevent “systematic risks” to the cross-strait business environment that could have been caused if the DPP had won, he said.

It all has to do with the intimate interweaving of business and politics in China, where “the hidden rule is that business opportunities and deals are made possible behind the scenes, because they are often ‘gifts’ from Chinese officials with political endorsement, in exchange for returned reciprocity,” Chang said.

Taking as an example the smartphone maker HTC Corp, whose chairwoman, Cher Wang (王雪紅), strongly endorsed the “1992 consensus” on the eve of the election, Chang said that HTC would not have been able to tap into the Chinese market without collaborating with China Mobile.

Chang Yen-hsien (張炎憲), a professor of Taiwan history at National Taipei University of Education, said that the impact of intimidation tactics in the election should be examined over a longer time frame, rather than just how it affected the election.

It is true that intimidation works on voters in Taiwan because Taiwan is a relatively young democracy, with the process only starting in the 1980s, and its national identity is still in the process of formation and consolidation, Chang Yen-hsien said.

“While the campaign was heating up, information was heaped upon voters in various forms, like media reports, ads and campaign slogans, rendering people unable to compare the policy platforms of the respective candidates and carefully consider which candidate to vote for in only a short and tense period of time,” he said.

An example to corroborate his contention was that more than 70 percent of Taiwanese are not familiar with the content of the “1992 consensus,” as one survey had suggested, but the issue held sway in the election simply because people were told that the DPP’s rejection of the formula could disrupt cross-strait relations.

“When the election is over and people have calmed down, they can think more clearly. This is how Taiwan makes steady progress in its democratization. We would not have arrived at this point had we not learned from past elections,” he said.


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