The Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) losses in the nine-in-one elections on Saturday were mainly caused by widespread dissatisfaction with its domestic policies, DPP Legislator Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) and academics said at a conference in Taipei yesterday.
The losses could be attributed to its problematic “middle-ground” approach to a wide range of issues from diplomacy and same-sex marriage to labor law reform, Lo told the conference.
For example, the DPP’s hesitation to follow through with legislation on same-sex marriage has drawn ire from young voters, who blame the party for “not being progressive enough,” while older voters oppose such legislation, he said.
Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times
“The party thought it was taking care of everyone, but ended up offending both sides,” he said.
While the DPP had expected to lose some races, the scope and extent of its losses were beyond what it had anticipated, Lo said.
“The DPP was defeated by itself, not the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). The KMT had no role in it. Kaohsiung mayor-elect Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) even had to avoid being associated with the KMT during campaigning. Our opponent was ourselves in the past two years and the progressive values we championed,” he said.
The DPP promoted the right reforms in wrong ways and at the wrong time, he said, adding that it had taken on too much at once.
The 10 referendums held alongside the elections also had a negative effect on the results, he said.
“The KMT used the referendums to mobilize its supporters. However, the ruling party demobilized its supporters by not expressing its stance on the referendums, as it was worried about maintaining government neutrality,” he said.
National Dong Hwa University professor Shih Cheng-feng (施正鋒) agreed said that numerous reforms in only two years had led to dissatisfaction among voters.
“The pension reforms were done poorly. The DPP clearly thought pensioners, who are typically KMT supporters, would not vote for them anyway,” Shih said.
National Chung Cheng University College of Social Sciences dean Soong Hseik-wen (宋學文) said reforms is necessary, but problems arose because they were promoted at the same time.
“Reforming the pension system, labor laws and energy laws made sense, and were even necessary, but dealing with them all at the same time caused problems. In addition, there were questions about how to promote them,” Soong said.
“The government did improve the economy, as data showed, but as with the reforms, the benefits from major policies were not immediately apparent,” he said. “There is usually a time lag,” he said.
However, the government should not radically adjust its policy direction just because of the election results, he said.
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