Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday called for the party to make necessary changes so that the DPP would be able to embrace — and be accepted by — the emerging force of Taiwan’s civil society in the new year and beyond.
“We have to understand that it has come down to whether civil society will accept the DPP, rather than how the DPP is supposed to ‘lead’ civil society. Only with that in mind, and only with sincerity, can the DPP foster the public’s trust,” Tsai said in a press release issued by her office, in which she listed her new year’s resolution.
Tsai said that this year, the DPP would have to make choices on at least two important issues: its relations with civil society, which was the main driver of social and political change last year; and the party’s traditional political thinking and practices that somehow have prevented it from connecting with the public and the rapidly changing society.
Both issues would likely have profound impacts on the DPP’s future and the nation’s democratic development, she said.
The former presidential candidate appeared to be concerned with the disconnect between the DPP and civil society, as well as the public’s growing lack of trust in the party.
When civil groups took the leading role in social movements through street protests, the DPP should have begun re-examining its relations with the groups, which have always been the party’s close allies in the political arena, and deciding whether there is a new role for the party to play, she said.
One of the conventional practices under the principle of party politics was recruiting the best talent as members and making them candidates in the elections, Tsai said.
“With the unique political party structure and social atmosphere in Taiwan, the questions the DPP must answer are whether the old model is its only option and whether the party should be inclusive and tolerant so that it can collaborate with other opposition forces to break the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) domination of the political-economic structure,” she said.
Tsai appeared to be referring to the DPP’s current dilemma surrounding National Taiwan University Hospital physician Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), who wished to run in the Taipei mayoral election as an independent, but is mulling joining the DPP to consolidate pan-green camp voter support.
The DPP has insisted on nominating its own candidate for the election and has been reluctant to support Ko, who has been leading all other pan-green camp aspirants in most opinion polls, if Ko stayed as an independent.
“Insistence on dealing with the current social atmosphere with old-school thinking would be counterproductive. Without a complete change this year, the DPP will weed itself out of Taiwan’s political map,” Tsai said.