DPP Infighting over the Five City Elections
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
June 11, 2010
During the 2008 presidential election, Chen Shui-bian and Frank Hsieh engaged in an internal DPP power struggle. They fought over personal power and the party's future. Eventually this internal struggle hijacked the DPP's presidential campaign.
Chen Shui-bian hoped to manipulate the presidential election. He hoped to maintain his status as the standard bearer for the Taiwan independence movement. He hoped to use that status to evade prosecution for corruption after leaving office. Presidential candidate Frank Hsieh was initially reluctant to express solidarity with Chen and reluctant to endorse the demand for a referendum on UN membership. But he lost to Chen Shui-bian. He also lost his bid for the presidency.
The upcoming mayoral elections for the five directly administered municipalities mirror internal struggles within the DPP for personal power and over the party's future. Tsai Ing-wen and Su Tseng-chang are in coopetition over personal power and the party's future. Tsai and Su are the only two candidates for the 2012 presidential election. Su Tseng-chang, who is running for Taipei mayor, has vowed that if elected, he will serve out his term in full. Tsai Ing-wen, who is running for Xinbei City mayor, has said only that if elected, "we will be responsible to the end." Even this tiny difference leaves a lot to the imagination. Also, now that ECFA has become a plank in the DPP election platform, it will only intensify the Tsai vs. Su power struggle.
The DPP has demagogued the issue of ECFA so long it can no longer stop. Opposition to ECFA has become the clarion call in four out five DPP mayoral campaigns, including Tsai Ing-wen's campaign for Xinbei City mayor. Only Su Tseng-chang, in his campaign for Taipei mayor, has expressed reservations about opposing ECFA. So far he has made only two remarks about ECFA. He said "Entering (mainland) China means getting locked in (mainland) China" and "I favor opening, but with conditions." Given public sentiments in Taipei City, Su Tseng-chang may be wise to go easy on ECFA. On the other hand, Tsai Ing-wen, along with the three other DPP mayoral candidates, have been demagoguing the issue of ECFA. She has even threatened to raise such a ruckus that no one will have any peace. This is clearly inconsistent with the interests of Su Tseng-chang's election campaign.
Up until the Two Yings Debate, Tsai Ing-wen had yet to express any opposition to ECFA. She merely adopted a "go slow, add conditions" position. After losing the debate however, her rhetoric changed. She spoke of "abolishing ECFA once we assume power," and of "holding a referendum to abolish ECFA." She referred to the ROC as a "government in exile." She expressed opposition to our "economics above all attitude" and doubts about our "export-orientation." After Tsai Ing-wen announced her candidacy for Xinbei City mayor, and the TSU proposal for a referendum on ECFA was shot down, she adopted an even harder line on ECFA. She denounced ECFA as a "duet sung by the KMT and the CCP." She adopted the rhetoric of class struggle, claiming that "the conglomerates will benefit, but the poor will be victimized." Tsai Ing-wen has used the occasion to move closer to the Deep Greens. She is attempting to seize the party leadership, and shrink Su Tseng-chang's manuevering room. Su Tseng-chang initially proposed a "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" scenario. But Tsai Ing-wen wants a "Five Cities Network." Su Tseng-chang's marginalization is clear to see. Coopetition between Tsai and Su in the five mayoral elections has become a two way power struggle over who will call the shots in the five mayoral campaigns, and a prelude to the 2012 presidential election.
Internal DPP struggles over the five mayoral elections are more than a power struggle between Tsai and Su. Other demands have been made, including calls to "share party power" and demands that "the princes of the party must become standing committee members." Chen Chih-chung has announced his candidacy. DPP city council candidates have formed a "Chen Shui-bian Alliance." This represents another sort of inner-party struggle. This scenario confirms Taiwan's political destiny. Internecine power struggles within the DPP are an insoluble problem. They will go on forever. Then will be played up during elections. The larger interests of Republic of China citizens on Taiwan will never be addressed.
Tsai Ing-wen has already been thoroughly "DPP-ized." She has already embarked upon a one way path, politically and socially. She has already passed the point of no return. To consolidate her status within the party, and to gain an advantage over Su Tseng-chang, she has encouraged the DPP to adopt an anti-ECFA stance. She has spouted such extremist rhetoric as "a duet sung by the KMT and the CCP," and "the conglomerates will benefit, but the poor will be victimized." This is remarkably similar to how Chen Shui-bian encouraged the DPP to adopt such extremist rhetoric as the "rectification of names" and "one country on each side." The only difference is the issue at hand. Chen Shui-bian's thinking was "as long as the head gets through, the body can get through." But if Tsai Ing-wen categorically repudiates ECFA, and incites rich vs. poor class struggles, neither the head nor the body will get through. One can safely predict the outcome of both the five mayoral elections and the 2012 presidential election. Does Tsai Ing-wen really wish to incite class struggle on Taiwan? With the 2012 elections looming, does she really wish to turn the clock back to the era prior to cross-Strait flights and ECFA? If she does, then even if the head gets through, the body will not get through.
Taiwan is afflicted by a lethal defect. That defect is not the consensus formed by mainstream society. That defect was created by the DPP. Due to internal power struggles, the DPP is incapable of ever reaching a final consensus. Internal differences over the party line may provide leverage for political struggles within the party and on the island of Taiwan. But they are useless in cross-Strait relations and in the global arena. They cannot offer Taiwan any kind of future. Coopetition between Tsai Ing-wen and Su Tseng-chang has once again left us with an insoluble dilemma.
2010.06.11 03:09 am