Monday, May 7, 2007

Hsieh's Win was a Surprise, Chen's Loss was a Certainty

Hsieh's Win was a Surprise, Chen's Loss was a Certainty
United Daily News editorial
translated by Bevin Chu
May 07, 2007

Frank Hsieh wins Upset Victory over Su Tseng-chang

Hsieh's Win was a Surprise, Chen's Loss was a Certainty

United Daily News editorial
translated by Bevin Chu
May 07, 2007

Two major surprises. One, Frank Hsieh unexpectedly won a major victory, leading by nearly 16,000 votes. Two, Su Tseng-chang declared that he was forfeiting the party sponsored public opinion poll and withdrawing from the party primaries.

Prior to the election, even the Frank Hsieh camp estimated that Hsieh would lose by at least 15,000 votes. Instead, the result turned their universe upside down, and Frank Hsieh won by nearly 16,000 votes. Yesterday, halfway through the ballot counting, text messages from the Su Tseng-chang camp proclaimed that Su would seek to win the party sponsored public opinion poll, but shortly afterwards Su announced that he was withdrawing from the party primaries.

Frank Hsieh hopes to be the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate in 2008. Two upcoming developments are worth noting: One, on the eve of the election, Chen Shui-bian repudiated the suggestion that "the winner and runner-up should pair up." Su Tseng-chang also declared that he would not accept the vice-presidency. Now Su may have to resign his position as prime minister or else be forced out. Changes in this scenario will surely affect the political situation. Two, once Frank Hsieh, who advocates Conciliation and Co-existence, becomes the DPP presidential candidate, he will control developments within the the party and the ruling government. Chen Shui-bian will no longer be unable to manipulate the strategic picture and may become a lame duck.

Frank Hsieh had to move mountains to win his victory, at least four mountains. One, he affirmed the One China Constitution, Conciliation and Co-existence with mainland China, yet managed to retain the support of a majority within his party. Two, he is involved in the Kaohsiung Rapid Transit scandal and many other scandals. On the day of the vote, Su Tseng-chang even ran an ad proclaiming that Hsieh "may try to shift the focus away from himself, but he cannot change the reality of his involvement." Three, without the support of other factions within the DPP, exclusive reliance on "dummy voters" would not have assured Hsieh his landslide victory. Four, most importantly, Chen Shui-bian obviously supported Su Tseng-chang. Seven DPP mayors and county magistrates publicly supported Su. Every one of these four mountains was intimidating. Frank Hsieh unexpectedly moved them all, achieving a surprising and resounding victory.

On the eve of the vote, it was generally thought that Su Tseng-chang's momentum would increase, and that he would win by at least 15,000 votes. It was reasonable to assume that Su's offensive would draw blood. He attacked Hsieh's affirmation of a "One China Constitution," giving Hsieh more problems than he could handle. He attacked Hsieh's scandals, demanding that party members not vote for Hsieh, arguing that although Hsieh might be able to win the party primaries, he couldn't win the presidential election. These arguments had considerable substance. So why did Su Tseng-chang lose so badly?

The reasons are manifold, but Chen Shui-bian is without a doubt the key factor in Su Tseng-chang's downfall and defeat. In 2000, Lee Teng-hui dragged down Lien Chan. Today, Chen Shui-bian has dragged down Su Tseng-chang. Actually, everyone knows that this party primary was not merely a choice between Frank Hsieh and Su Tseng-chang. The fact that Frank Hsieh could unexpectedly win a victory over an alliance between Chen Shui-bian, Su Tseng-chang, and seven DPP mayors and county magistrates, reveals the discontent within the DPP, and changes within the hearts and minds of the DPP rank and file.

Given such developments, allow us to offer a guarded insight: Mainstream thinking within the Democratic Progressive Party since Chen Shui-bian's corruption scandals blew up in the party's face has been: "To rescue the party, we must rescue Chen." However, even after being rescued, Chen Shui-bian continued holding the DPP hostage. Therefore, during this primary election most party members supported Frank Hsieh, even though he is also implicated in numerous scandals, because they can no longer tolerate being held hostage by Chen Shui-bian. Only this can explain why most party members voted Chen out.

Some in the Green Camp believe that Su Tseng-chang's downfall and defeat is the fault of the New Tide Faction. They want to absolve Chen Shui-bian of responsibility. But even if the New Tide Faction was a factor, it was not the result of Chen, Su, and the New Tide Faction forming an alliance during the primary election. One need only look at Su Tseng-chang's rout in Chen Shui-bian's hometown -- Tainan City and Tainan County, to see the whole picture.

Frank Hsieh was not Chen Shui-bian's designated successor. From the beginning, Frank Hsieh maintained considerable distance between himself and Chen. This was Frank Hsieh's opportunity to "build his own brand." This was also the DPP's opportunity to begin its "Post-Chen" era. Chen Shui-bian has proclaimed that "In my remaining year in office, I still have many, many matters to attend to." We say it is time for Chen Shui-bian to stand down and give Frank Hsieh, the DPP, and Taiwan a way out.

The turnout for yesterday's election was only 55%, lower than anticipated. This shows that bloody infighting discouraged many party members from voting. Even more worth noting is how the candidates set up stalls in front of the polling booths, issuing party membership cards on the spot. These "voter brigages" marched in and out of the polling booths en masse. They didn't even bother concealing their actions. The problem of dummy voters inflating vote counts within the DPP was laid out under the sun for all to see. These dummy voters performed remarkably well during this party primary, engaging in "split voting."

During the national presidential primary race, the individual consciences of party members kicked in. This resulted in "Hsieh In, Su Out." It also had a significant influence on the DPP's ideological path and body politic. But in the local legislative primary race, the same voters unexpectedly reverted to the status of dummy voters. This led to machine politicians winning by landslides, and candidates who ran on idea-based platforms being overshadowed. The election result amounted to a test of dummy voter loyalty to political bosses. This did not help the DPP improve its image or clarify its political path.

Bloc voting by dummy voters is a congenital defect of the DPP. Instead of trying to reform this system of patronage, the party leadership has institutionalized this perverse system for primary elections, making the problem worse. In certain electoral districts, as long as some candidates are able to win because they control a several hundred dummy voters, they can demand a "Blues Excluded Opinion Poll." Isn't such a system a case of Gresham's Law, of bad currency driving out the good?

Dummy voters voted for legislators. Independent voters voted for the president. This reveals a bizarre self-contradiction within the DPP. Absent a spirit of reform, party members would not have rejected Chen and Su in favor of Frank Hsieh. But at the same time, Lin Cho-shui, Hsiao Bi-khim, Lee Wen-chung, Cheng Yun-peng, and Lin Shu-shan, who have been labeled the "Eleven Bandits" for having the temerity to demand internal reform, brought up the rear in the same election. This is not because party members displayed a commitment to reform only in the presidential primary race. This is because dummy voters were hijacked by legislators during the legislative elections.

This was not merely a DPP primary election. It was a civil war in which no quarter was given and no prisoners taken. Chen Shui-bian could have maintained neutrality. He could also have publicly supported Su Tseng-chang. Instead Chen Shui-bian made a pretense of neutrality, while in fact supporting Su Tseng-chang. As a result, Su Tseng-chang resorted to any and all means to attack Frank Hsieh. The grass roots within the party, not surprisingly, regarded Chen Shui-bian's indifference to Su's excesses as collusion. Chen Shui-bian and Su Tseng-chang used the same ruthless methods they used against the Blue Camp against their own comrade Frank Hsieh. This provoked a reaction against the Chen/Shu alliance, and won sympathy and support for Frank Hsieh.

Chen Shui-bian and seven mayors and county magistrates supported Su. They monopolized all power and resources. Yet they were trounced by Frank Hsieh, who had no resources whatsoever. This was a case of the rank and file lashing out at the high command. This was a case of of the will of the people delivering a knock-out blow to the will of their masters. Because of this, the DPP party hierarchy is now split. The rank and file within the DPP have revealed their desire for rebirth and reform. But the bizarre paradox of "dummy voters voting for legislators, independent voters voting for the president" has left the DPP mired in confusion.

When Frank Hsieh won, he said "Those with the least resources turned out to be those with the most resources." Chen Shui-bian lost. He needs to realize that "Those who abuse their power and resources, may well end up with no resources!"

Frank Hsieh's win was a surprise. Chen Shui-bian's loss was a certainty.

Original Chinese below:

2007.05.07 03:39 am


















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