After the nation’s democratization and transition of power, a generation gap has appeared in both the pan-blue and the pan-green camps. The voice of the ideology-oriented older generation has weakened, while the benefit and social care-oriented younger generation has started to take the lead.
The mission of the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) older generation was to resist the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) authoritarian rule, to fight for the right of Taiwanese to participate in politics fairly and establish Taiwan’s identity as an independent nation. With the termination of the KMT’s authoritarian rule and the establishment of a democratic system, a broader sense of Taiwanese independence has entered mainstream public opinion, and this has resulted in a divergence between the issues that the older and younger generations care about.
The older generation likes to talk about people and to influence personnel appointments according to their own experience and preferences. Older politicians are experienced, know how things work and have good interpersonal relationships. They are confident in their ability to get the measure of a rival.
Due to nostalgia and compassion for an old friend, they think a special pardon for former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) is a priority and insist that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) would be able to save her approval rating if she were to pardon Chen, even if it was against the law.
The mission of the KMT’s older generation is to “retake the mainland” and to maintain its monopoly on government power, plans that have fallen by the wayside following democratization.
The party’s second generation of leaders are still in the grip of a “China complex” and have revealed their true colors by rejecting Taiwan’s status as a sovereign state. They are willing to be “unified with China” by accepting the “one China” condition.
The two parties’ younger members do not care about these issues. They are fighting for their own benefits, interests, social fairness and justice, and they want jobs, wage hikes, housing justice, a reduction in work hours and equal rights for homosexuals, an issue that used to be taboo not long ago.
Thanks to the Internet, the younger generation is dominating the information and issues, and brimming with confidence.
The KMT’s younger generation is fed up with vested interests’ protection of party assets, their tolerance of “fat cats” and exchanges with China. Such actions run counter to their sense of justice, love for the land and their way of life.
As for the DPP’s younger generation, they believe that Chen is a victim of political persecution and therefore have compassion for the former president, who has been tormented for years. Still, he has been found to conceal huge sums of money and legal procedures still have not been completed, so unlike the older generation, they do not think that pardoning Chen is Tsai’s most urgent task.
Since the national identity of the two parties’ younger members has been gradually converging, competition between them has turned toward domestic issues and shared interests. This will inevitably change Taiwan’s political scene and it will become an indicator of the normalization of the nation.
James Wang is a media commentator.
Translated by Eddy Chang
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