Academics yesterday warned the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) that it had lost touch with its core values and its connection with civil society, saying that was why the party had disappointed the public during the period when it was in power between 2000 and 2008 and why the party is still struggling today to regain people’s trust.
“The DPP would have to be a party built on progressive ideas and values once again and do the little things — such as legislation that truly benefits people — before it regains people’s trust,” Academia Sinica associate research fellow Wu Rwei-ren (吳叡人) told a forum organized by the DPP.
Wu made the comment during a panel discussion on democracy and the Constitution, part of the last of the four installments of the forum, which aimed to review the party’s governance from 2000 to 2008.
While the DPP did make contributions to strengthening democracy and Taiwanese identity, Constitutional reform, human rights protection and promotion of transitional justice, it also made compromises and “trade-offs” in those areas after coming to power in 2000, Wu said.
That change of mentality has not only neutralized the DPP’s efforts, but also disappointed and alienated the public, civil society in particular, Wu said.
“It seemed to me that the DPP failed to realize where its mandate came from. It came from people’s trust that the party would uphold those core values it shared with the people and lead the way to pursuing those goals,” Wu said.
“The party’s biggest mistake was that it falsely assumed that its mandate came from the same origins as the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), which has always governed by mastering the art of quid pro quo, maintaining so-called social stability and the relentless pursuit of economic growth at any cost,” Wu said.
Academia Sinica associate research fellow Fort Liao (廖福特) echoed Wu’s views, saying that the DPP administration came to an end in 2008 “not because its policies were wrong, but because the compromises it had made on almost every front frustrated people.”
“It would be important for the DPP to have ‘shared values’ with the public once again, otherwise the DPP’s returning to power would not mean anything positive for ordinary citizens,” Liao said.
Former National Security Council secretary-general Chiou I-jen (邱義仁), who served as convener of the panel discussion, appeared to disagree with Wu and Liao’s views.
Chiou said that trade-offs and compromises were inevitable for any ruling political party and said that it was imperative for civic organizations to “develop their own political agenda.”