Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The KMT should worry about its Supermajority

The KMT should worry about its Supermajority
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 15, 2008

When KMT leaders lined up in a row to announce their victory, they all looked solemn. Not one of them showed any sign they were experiencing the "thrill of victory." The Chairman of the KMT Culture and Communications Committee stressed that those outside party headquarters lighting firecrackers and opening champagne had nothing to do with them. Their "once bitten, twice shy" demeanor did not appear to be affected. After all, it was a close victory against a well matched foe. Perhaps they felt some joy in having waged a successful campaign. If they had been gloating about scoring a crushing victory, that would be worrisome. Their caution is not entirely due to fear of a "pendulum effect" in which sympathy swings back toward the loser. It is also due to their realization that ROC voters are in deadly earnest, and that many of them have bet their futures on the KMT.

Ever since the ROC instituted universal suffrage in 1992 and passed a second round of constitutional amendments, the KMT has never experienced the thrill of victory. In 2000, following regime change, the KMT has constantly faced the pressure of imminent collapse. And even though it is an opposition party, the DPP has slapped all sorts of negative labels on it, including "alien regime," "black gold organization," "traitor to Taiwan," and "holder of illegitimate party assets." These charges follow the KMT around like a shadow. They never leave. Ever since the lifting of martial law, "Bashing the KMT" has become a Politically Correct past time. After seven years in the political wilderness, the KMT is not only used to being criticized, it is also gun shy. When it achieves a landslide victory, it doesn't know how to deal with it. The public has sent the KMT an important message: You say you can do the job? Well I'm handing you the power. Let's see what you can do with it.

One can list a hundred different reasons for the KMT's victory. But "The KMT has done a good job!" is not one of them. One reason for the KMT's victory was that the new electoral system was inherently disadvantageous to the Democratic Progressive Party. Another was that Chen Shui-bian's personal halo had been tarnished. Another was that the DPP had no clue how to govern the nation. Another was the DPP overplayed its hand with its negative campaigning. None of these reasons are important. What matters now is that in the coming four years the KMT will enjoy a supermajority in the legislature. The KMT's supermajority allows it to pretty much do whatever it pleases. If in 60 days it also takes the presidency, its control over the central government will be as solid as the Rock of Gilbraltar. Such an outcome is worrisome.

Therefore Ma Ying-jeou's swift assurance that the KMT would not abuse its supermajority to recall the president, to cast votes of non-confidence in the cabinet, or to ram through constitutional amendments, was reassuring. An absolute majority can be a stabilizing force. It can also be a source of chaos. Over the past seven years, citizens of the ROC have had it with a ruling party that takes the lead in creating chaos. The public wants to recuperate. It does not want a rerun of the partisan political struggles of the past seven years. The KMT is aware of this. But that is not enough.

Besides guarantees that it will not abuse its supermajority to do whatever it wants, the KMT will face several tough tests. The first is the "naked greed" test. One of the most repulsive sights in the world is the naked greed on the face of politicians as they fall over each other fighting over their share of the loot. The new legislature will convene in February. If the first act of the KMT Caucus is to launch a power struggle over the vice premiership, to see who can sponsor the most extravagant pork barrel legislation, not even bothering to disguise their naked greed, then public opinion of the KMT will plummet. Suppose the KMT resists demands for reform. Its arrogant assumption being that it had the support of the electorate, therefore their shortcomings can safely be ignored. The "Recovery of Party Assets" plebiscite failed to pass. That means that for three years it will be impossible to demand a similar plebiscite. Does that mean the KMT is home free on the party assets issue? Just the opposite. If the Democratic Progressive Party demands that the KMT account for its party assets during the next election, then the KMT really will have proven that it is a political party utterly unable to grow or advance. The third temptation confronting the KMT is the temptation to escalate the political struggle, to use its supermajority to indulge in political retaliation, to overturn any controversial legislation rammed through by the DPP, and start from scratch. The KMT could even cease consulting with the DPP. It could simply take a vote whenever it wished. A stable majority would then become a despotic majority, repeating the cycle of ruling vs. opposition party confrontation. If the KMT were to behave this way, its halo would soon lose its lustre.

Lest we forget, the election campaign isn't over. The DPP may have lost the legislative election. But based on its proportion of At Large Party Ballots, its support base remains intact. That coupled with its sense of crisis over its loss of political power, as well as a newfound resolve to defend "nativist rule," it may be able to recall many alienated votes. Besides, given the DPP's responsiveness, any mistakes it committed during the legislative elections will not be repeated during the presidential election. If it campaigns effectively during the presidential election, its last ditch struggle for survival could well lead to a "pendulum effect." If the KMT's humility and caution are genuine, what it most desperately needs is to tame the behemoth -- its own supermajority.


國 民黨領導精英一字排開宣布勝選的瞬間,個個面色嚴肅凝重,絲毫不見勝選的喜悅,擔任司儀的文傳會主委還刻意強調在黨部外開香檳慶功的場面與他們無關,這般 「戒慎恐懼」的畫面看得出來不像是喬裝的。畢竟如果是勢均力敵下的些微險勝,或許還會有些拚戰成功的喜悅,但如果是秋風掃落葉式的壓倒性狂勝,那種感受反 到令人有些莫名的驚懼。這種驚懼並不全是害怕出現「鐘擺效應」,而是具體感受到台灣選民認真了,他們有很大一部分人已經把他們自己的未來,押在國民黨這一 邊了!

自台灣開放全面普選以來,除了一九九二年的二屆修憲國代選舉,國民黨就從未再體會過「大勝」的滋味。二○○○年政黨輪替後,國民黨 即無時無刻不面臨崩解潰散的壓力,而即便已是在野之身,民進黨加諸於國民黨的負面標籤,如外來政權、黑金體制、出賣台灣、不當黨產…等指控依舊如影隨形, 從未退燒過,某種程度說,從戒嚴到政黨輪替後,民間「批判國民黨」都還一直是論述上的政治正確。因而七年的在野經驗,國民黨不僅是被罵慣了,而且是輸怕 了,一旦獲得壓倒性勝利,反而有些不知所措,這彷彿是人民向國民黨傳達一項重要的指令:你既然說你行,我就真把權柄交給你,看你要怎麼做!

沒 錯,有一百個以上的理由,可以解釋國民黨這次的大勝,不是因為國民黨表現的好,如新選制先天上就對民進黨不利,如陳水扁個人光環褪色,如民進黨治國無方, 如負面選舉操作過度等,但此刻爭論這些緣由早已經不重要,重點是未來四年,國民黨已經確定就是國會多數黨,而且是「絕對多數」的政黨,多數到幾乎可以「為 所欲為」,六十多天後如果拿下總統,那簡直是政治上的「超穩定結構」了,這個結局,要說完全不令人擔心,是不可能的。

所以,馬英九很快就 保證絕不利用這個多數操作罷免、倒閣或修憲是對的。「絕對多數」可以是一股穩定的力量,也可以是製造紛亂的來源。過去七年多,台灣人早已經受夠了「當家帶 頭鬧事」的亂象,如今的主流民意,需要的是「休養生息」,絕對不是重新複製過去七年多的「藍綠惡鬥」,這一點國民黨是警覺到了,但是還不夠!

不 諱言說,除了保證不利用多數「為所欲為」外,國民黨的「絕對多數」勢將面臨幾項嚴酷的考驗:首先就是「吃相難看」的試煉。要知道,通常最令人厭惡的贏家, 就是才剛贏就就露出貪婪的嘴臉,爭先恐後的搶食資源。如果二月立院開議後軍容壯盛的國民黨黨團,在全體國人面前所搬演的第一齣戲碼,就是爭奪副院長,就是 競相提出錢坑法案,完全不掩飾贏家通吃的嘴臉,那麼民眾對國民黨的觀感馬上就折損掉一半;其次就是抗拒改革的傲慢。理所當然的認為既然獲得選民力挺,自身 曾受垢病的缺點也都可以不必再理會,譬如說這次「討黨產」的公投沒生效,三年內也不可能再提出類似議題的公投,那是否意味國民黨就可以放著黨產議題不再處 理?情況恐怕剛好相反。試想如果到了下次選舉民進黨還在訴求黨產議題,那國民黨就真的是完全不長進的政黨了。第三就是擴大戰線的誘惑。即藉著席次多數的優 勢展開政治報復,凡是民進黨先前強推的爭議性法案,一概推翻重新來過,甚至根本不再與民進黨協商,動不動就全院表決,讓「穩定多數」變成「鴨霸多數」,重 演朝野的循環對抗,真要這樣,國民黨的勝選光環,很快就折損光了。

不要忘記,選戰還沒打完,民進黨也許輸了立委選舉,但從政黨票的比例看 來,基本盤並未流失,加上失去政權的危機意識,以及捍衛本土政權的悲情意識雙雙驅動下,不少疏離的選票仍能召喚的回來。更何況以民進黨靈活的性格,立委選 戰犯過的錯,總統大選不可能再犯,如果屆時議題操作得當,背水一戰的達成「鐘擺效應」不是沒有可能,國民黨如果真的「誠惶誠恐」,他最需要做的就是先管好 自己這個「絕對多數」的巨獸。

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