Political Support for the DPP Not in QuestionUnited Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
July 2, 2010
Summary: Last Saturday the DPP held an anti-ECFA protest march. It boasted that over 150,000 people joined in. According to police estimates however, only 32,000 people started out, and by the time they reached Ketegelan Boulevard only about 16,000 remained due to the heavy rains. No one questions the political strength of the Democratic Progressive Party. Suppose that 150,000 people actually participated in the anti-ECFA protest march. How was that any different from past protest marches? When the marchers arrived at Ketagalan Boulevard, the DPP also reached "the end of the road." The DPP also reached a "dead end."
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Last Saturday the DPP held an anti-ECFA protest march. It boasted that over 150,000 people joined in. According to police estimates however, only 32,000 people started out, and by the time they reached Ketegelan Boulevard only about 16,000 remained due to the heavy rains.
Each time a protest march is held, the organizers' estimates differ from the police estimates. This is true for the Blue and Green camps alike. Actually, the DPP should not be terribly concerned about the number of people participating in any particular protest march. Nor should outsiders jump to conclusions about the DPP's political support based solely on the number of people who participated in a given DPP protest march.
After all, the DPP is a political party that still commanded 5.4 million votes during the 2008 presidential election, i.e., 41.55% of the total votes. During the 2008 presidential election, the DPP hit a low due to the Chen Corruption and Money Laundering Scandals. The Referendum on Joining the UN and other political moves made it impossible for Taipei to talk to Beijing and Washington. Presidential candidate Frank Hsieh was also a highly controversial figure. By contrast, Ma Ying-jeou's political momentum was unstoppable. Pan Blue voters' morale was sky high. But even admidst such dire circumstances the DPP still commanded 5.4 million votes. Such political support is as solid as the Rock of Gilbraltar. Who dares to underestimate it?
During the 2008 presidential election ballot counting stage, we pointed out that although Ma Ying-jeou's KMT won with approximately 58% of the vote, the Democratic Progressive Party remained the key factor determining the rise or fall of Taiwan. If the DPP is unwilling to allow the Republic of China to survive, then it will not survive.
Twenty years of party politics on Taiwan has shown that the DPP's political support is growing. During the 2000 presidential election, Chen Shui-bian received 39% of the vote. In 2004, that number increased by 5%. The DPP's political support is rock solid. Even in 2008, when the party was in crisis, support for the DPP held at 42%. Several by-elections over the past two years show that support for the DPP has stabilized. Admittedly one reason is Pan Blue voters have boycotted recent elections. But even more interestingly, after 2008 it was widely assumed that the Democratic Progressive Party would draw a line in the sand between itself and Chen Shui-bian's corruption, and that it would change its stand on Taiwan independence. But these predictions turned out to be grossly mistaken. Today the "Chen Shui-bian connection" has become one wing of the DPP. Furthermore, the Democratic Progressive Party has mobilized in opposition to ECFA, and reverted to shouting "The KMT and CCP are singing a duet, the rich and the poor are locked in a class struggle."
These phenomena show that although the DPP has refused to disown Ah-Bian, and persists in supporting Taiwan independence, it nevertheless commands solid support. One might even say that in order to maintain its political base, the DPP cannot afford to disown Ah-Bian, and cannot afford to amend its Taiwan independence stance. This is why the DPP is able to ensure that its political support never falls below a certain level. But it is also the reason the DPP is unable to transform itself.
In the wake of ECFA, one can safely draw the following conclusion. The Democratic Progressive Party will not undergo any transformation prior to 2012.
From the very beginning, the Democratic Progressive Party chose to demonize ECFA. Now it is too late to change its tune. If the DPP were to change its tune, how could it continue its mayoral campaigns for the five directly administered municipalities? The primary plank in the five municipalities mayoral elections is "opposition to [mainland] China." If the DPP wins in 2012 on the basis of an "opposition to [mainland] China" platform, does it really intend to abolish ECFA. Does it really intend to force everyone to start over from scratch?
There is no possibility of the DPP undergoing transformation. At the same time, the DPP has a solid base of political support. This gives the DPP enough power to divide the nation. It also encourages the DPP to divide the nation to ensure its own political survival and political growth. But if the DPP wins the five mayoral elections, or even the 2013 presidential election, won't it lead Taiwan down a dead end?
Compare the current Democratic Progressive Party with the "DPP" of 2000, which proclaimed its support for "Five Noes." Compare it with the DPP of 2004, which demanded a referendum to purchase missiles. Compare it with the DPP of 2008, which demanded a referendum to join the UN. The DPP of 2010 has adopted an even harder line on Taiwan independence. Its party chairman refers to the ROC as "a government in exile." It is trying even harder to divide the nation. It has equated opposition to ECFA with hatred for [mainland] China and hatred for the rich. It is less likely to undergo transformation, and less willing to undergo transformation. It believes that if it changes, it will collapse, and be unable to justify its former rhetoric. It feels no need to undergo transformation. After all, it still retains a 42% level of political support from 2008.
DPP supporters are diehards who stubbornly persist in supporting the party despite Chen Shui-bian's flagrant corruption. They are diehards whose support cannot be shaken even by globalization and Taiwan's marginalization. This is why the Democratic Progressive Party feels no need to undergo transformation prior to 2012. This is why the DPP does not dare undergo transformation, and will not undergo transformation prior to 2012.
On the one hand, such stubbornly unwavering political support provides the DPP with skeletal support. On the other hand, it is also consumes the DPP's marrow. Therefore, pay no attention to how many people attend the DPP's protest marches. After all, the DPP once held an island wide demonstration involving one million people. No one questions the political strength of the Democratic Progressive Party. Suppose that 150,000 people actually participated in the anti-ECFA protest march. How was that any different from past protest marches? When the marchers arrived at Ketagalan Boulevard, the DPP also reached "the end of the road." The DPP also reached a "dead end."
2010.07.02 03:22 am