Monday, November 24, 2008

The First to Unburden Itself of the Past Will Be the Winner

The First to Unburden Itself of the Past Will Be the Winner
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
November 24, 2008

Last weekend, both the ruling and opposition parties were busy with party affairs. The KMT held its 17th Extraordinary National Congress. It added five Vice Chairmen, increasing the number of KMT Vice Chairmen to a record eight. The Democratic Progressive Party, meanwhile, gathered at the "Taiwan is Our Country" evening rally, organized by a nativist oriented pressure group. Nominally the rally was about sovereignty and human rights. In fact it was merely another "Support Chen Rally." These two political events dramatically illustrate the two parties' problems.

The two parties staged these events for the public benefit. But they merely highlighted the two parties' most serious problems, namely, that they are primarily interested in pacifying party insiders. If they can't pacify members of their own party, nothing else matters. No matter how strong the party's image or platform might be, if the party is subject to internal strife, if it trips over its own feet, it won't be able to wage a winning campaign at election time. If one cannot win elections, everything else is beside the point. This is a fate neither the ruling nor opposition party can escape.

Consider the KMT. There they sat, eight Vice Chairmen, all in a row. We have never seen such an array in the history of the KMT, or for that matter, in the history of political parties the world over. The Chairman and the Vice Chairmen are numerous enough to hold a "Meeting of Vice Chairmen." The arrangement highlighted neither the party's power succession, nor any commitment to generational change. As for reform? Forget about it. Euphemistically, such an arrangement might be referred to as "promoting unity." Less euphemistically, it is mere patronage. Still less euphemistically, one might say that "The KMT will always be the KMT." Considerations of power will always trump public perception. No wonder most peoples' mental stereotypes about the KMT can never be overcome.

Now consider the DPP. For the forseeable future, it is fated to be linked to Chen Shui-bian. Chairman Tsai Ing-wen understands this better than anyone else. If the Democratic Progressive Party hopes to reverse its fortunes, its first order of business must be to disassociate itself from Chen Shui-bian. Chen Shui-bian understands this equally well. If he wants to reverse his fortunes, his first order of business must be to cling to the Democratic Progressive Party for dear life. These two totally contradictory forces collided during the evening rally. The crowd was filled with masses who supported Chen. After a few pro forma expressions of support for human rights, Tsai Ing-wen vanished. The result was predictable. The more Tsai Ing-wen evades the need to disassociate the DPP from Ah-Bian, the firmer the support for Ah-Bian. This augurs poorly for the DPP's hope of an "era without Chen Shui-bian."

Both the ruling and opposition parties have their crosses to bear. Put simply, whichever political party remains hobbled by its past will be the loser.

The KMT faces old problems. Even after being in the opposition for eight years, its decadent  political culture remains. Its gerontocracy, its penchant for infighting and other negative traits seem to follow it around like a shadow. The arrangement of its eight Vice Chairmen has taken Parkinson's Law to the limit. Its actual purpose had nothing to do with leadership. Its real purpose was to prevent friction among rivals. The result was predictable. The power succession has been postponed indefinitely. The sundry factions will continue to consolidate their power. Such an arrangement will not help the Ma administration improve its performance. Even increasing the number of Vice Chairmen to 16 won't make any difference.

The Democratic Progressive Party also has no choice. Chen Shui-bian after all, is its former leader. Over the past eight years, Chen Shui-bian and the DPP have been joined at the hip. Chen Shui-bian enabled the Democratic Progressive Party to become the ruling party. Now that Chen Shui-bian is mired in corruption and depravity, the leaders of the Democratic Progressive Party, no matter which faction, no matter which generation, are unable to disown him. Logically speaking, who doesn't know the Chen family is guilty of corruption and money-laundering? Emotionally speaking, who has the courage to make a clean break? Wait and see. Wait for prosecutors to finish their preliminary investigation and begin actual prosecution. Ah-Bian is about to submit bail, pending trial. He is a caged tiger. The trial will take one and a half to three years. Perhaps longer. Ah-Bian can be counted on to stir the pot, to use of delaying tactics, to  foment political unrest to obstruct justice. Tsai Ing-wen will be lucky not to be marginalized. On the other hand, further revelations of revolting Green Camp corruption will come to light during the trial. Since the Democratic Progressive Party has missed its golden opportunity to make a clean break with Ah-Bian, it will have to accept the blame.

Two thousand and eight is rapidly drawing to a close. Neither the ruling nor opposition parties have had an easy time. The KMT has regained the power it lost for eight years. But regaining power has not immediately improved its lot. Its approval ratings have plummeted so preciptously, even its leadership is embarrassed. An Extraordinary National Congress has added five more Vice Chairmen. Otherwise, it is business as usual. The DPP has not recovered from the shock of losing political power. Should it break with Ah-Bian? The party remains in a dilemma. The issue will dog the party for years to come. In short, whichever party first unburdens itself of the past will be the winner.

中國時報  2008.11.24
誰能率先甩掉包袱 誰就是贏家

上個周末,朝野兩黨都在忙碌中度過。國民黨舉行了第十七次全代會臨時會,破紀錄地增加了五名副主席,加總起來國民黨現在已經擁有八名副主席了。民進黨則是 齊聚在本土社團所舉辦的「台灣咱的國家」晚會中,這場聚會名義上是要談主權講人權的,實質上依舊是場「挺扁大會」。這兩場政治活動,相當生動地點出了兩個 黨的各自問題。

儘管這兩場戲碼都有演給全國民眾看的寓意,但無例外都突出了兩黨當下所必須面對的最重要課題:「安內」為上。擺不平內部,其他談再多其實都沒用。形象、政 綱再強的政黨,內部若是掣肘不斷、自亂陣腳,碰到選舉什麼戰力都發揮不出來,選敗了講什麼都是白搭。這或許是朝野兩黨都擺脫不了的宿命。

先看國民黨。一字排開八位副主席,別說國民黨自己的黨史,就算翻閱世界政黨史,都看不到這種陣仗,等於說光是主席加全部副主席就可以開個「副主席團會議」 了,整個安排既未突出「接班梯隊」的態勢,亦未呈現出「世代交替」的風格,至於「清新改革」就更不必提了。這種安排講好聽是「團結」,講難聽就是統統有獎 的權力分贓。說再白一些,國民黨終究就是國民黨,權力安排的考量永遠大過社會觀感,也難怪國民黨在多數民眾眼中的刻板印象永遠都去除不了。

至於民進黨,看來在未來相當長的一段時間裡,註定是要與陳水扁綁在一起了。蔡英文主席其實比誰都清楚,民進黨未來要逆勢再起,第一要務就是要與陳水扁切 割;同樣的陳水扁自己也心知肚明,他未來要在逆境中突圍,第一要務就是緊抱民進黨不放。當兩種完全矛盾的目標撞在一起,就像我們在晚會中所看到的畫面,滿 場群眾瀰漫著挺扁氛圍,蔡英文一人高倡人權後「快閃」,結果當然可想而知,蔡英文愈是迂迴切割,群眾挺扁聲浪愈是更堅實。這預示民進黨要邁入一個「沒有陳 水扁」時代,恐怕根本做不到!


國民黨所面臨的全是老問題。都已經在野了八年,昔日近乎腐朽的政治文化還是未見褪盡,論字排輩、內鬥內行…等等令人詬病的舊習性,永遠都是如影隨行;八名 副主席的安排,已經將管理學上的「帕金森定律」發揮到極致,它的實質功能與領導副手完全無關,僅只是為了避免各方人馬的無端反彈。結果當然可想而知,它將 權力接班的時程無限期延後,也提供了各路人馬更多蓄積能量的機會。只不過,如果這般複雜的安排,在未來不能幫助馬政府將政績提振起來,就算再擴張成十六個 人來當副主席,也不具有任何意義。

民進黨同樣也沒得選擇。陳水扁畢竟是昔日的領袖,過去八年的歲月,陳水扁與民進黨等於就是連體嬰,民進黨因為陳水扁而得享執政榮耀,如今卻也因陳水扁涉及 貪腐而墮落蒙塵,整個民進黨的領導精英,不論派系、世代,誰能與陳水扁切割得一清二楚?理性的事實認定上,扁家究竟有無貪汙洗錢,誰心中會沒數?但在感性 情誼上,誰又能完全一刀切呢?等著看吧,待檢方偵查終結邁入起訴階段後,扁也隨即要交保候審了,屆時勢必又是如同猛虎出柙,隨著審判時程,未來少則一年半 載,多則兩三年甚至更長,扁肯定翻炒議題,拉長戰線,以政治對抗司法,小英能不被邊緣化就不錯了。另一方面,審判過程中也勢必進一步披露更多綠營不堪聞問 的貪腐內幕,民進黨既然已經錯過了切割的黃金時間,也只能概括承受了。

二○○八快接近尾聲了,這一年朝野兩黨都過得並不愉快,國民黨贏得了喪失八年的政權,但並未帶來「馬上好」,聲望跌停到令他們自己都覺難堪,一場使勁演出 的臨全會,除了多了五位副主席,並未讓人「一新耳目」;而民進黨則是到現在都還未從喪失政權的陰影中回神過來,與扁要切不切的兩難,還會在未來的歲月中持 續折磨這個政黨。結論是,哪個政黨能率先甩掉包袱,就會是下階段的贏家。

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