A Third Ruling Party Change?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
July 26, 2012
Summary: If President Ma hopes to save the day, and turn the tide, he can no longer hem and haw. Between 2000 and 2008, the DPP "won the election, but lost its direction." Its eight years in office proved that the "rectification of names" Taiwan independence route is infeasible. Ma Ying-jeou must stay the course. He must remind himself that "we lost the election, but found our direction." The KMT may lose the general election in 2016. Nevertheless it must create a well-thought out cross-Strait policy and ECA Roadmap. The big picture will not change in 2016. As long as his direction is correct, Ma Ying-jeou's historical legacy is assured.
Full Text below:
The U.S. beef imports and capital gains tax bills have finally passed their Third Readings. But the big picture in the legislature has changed.
These two bills are basically reasonable. But the ruling administration has grossly mishandled them. The result has been a disaster, and has dealt a serious blow to President Ma Ying-jeou's reputation. It has given the public a negative impression of hapless KMT cabinet members. Worst of all, the Lin Yi-shi corruption scandal has dragged in Wu Den-yih. The KMT's public image has taken repeated hits. One cannot help wondering whether a third ruling party change is in the offing for 2016.
The first hurdle the ruling KMT must clear is the 2014 Seven-in-One Elections. The key is the Five Cities Elections. The DPP is the incumbent in Tainan City and Kaohsiung City. The damage the Lin Yi-shi corruption scandal has wreaked upon the KMT's election prospects in southern Taiwan is inestimable. The KMT will not have an easy time winning back these two southern cities. It cannot afford to have its voter base reduced even further. Can Yang Chiu-hsing and Su Jun-pin hold down the fort? Can they maintain the Kuomintang's foothold in the south in 2016? That remains a giant question mark. In Taipei City, Hau Lung-bin's two terms are about to expire. He has no choice but to step down. Lien Sheng-wen has some name recognition. He may be a viable successor. Xinbei City has Eric Chu. But he may have presidential ambitions in 2016. He may replace the premier. He is probably thinking about how he can withdraw from Xinbei City. If Chu does not run for re-election, a successor may be difficult to find. Chu could be stigmatized for "eating out of one bowl while eyeing another." That could be detrimental to his political ambitions. If Chu is groomed for the premiership in 2016, that means the premier is already cannon fodder. Is that a plus or a minus? We really don't know. Taichung has Jason Hu. Hu is like the little Dutch boy with his finger in the dike. He has laid down his life for the cause. But the threat still looms. Frank Hsieh might stand for election. His relatively enlightened cross-Strait proposals could be a diversion. In the 2014 Five Cities Elections, the KMT will have a hard time winning back the two southern cities. On the other hand, they could lose the other three.
For the DPP, Hau Lung-bin's conspicuous absence, Eric Chu's staunch support, and Jason Hu's arduous vigil, are opportunities for a Green Camp comeback. One possible strategy is for Su Tseng-chang to take Xinbei City, and Tsai Ing-wen to take Taipei City. This could build Democratic Progressive Party momentum over all of Taiwan. The two could run for mayor during the first stage. In 2016, during the second stage, they could enter the presidential race. This would not present a problem. Their supporters would support such a two-stage strategy. If the Democratic Progressive Party adopts this strategy, the KMT will find it difficult to parry.
Now take the 2016 general election. Wu Den-yih has been dragged into the Lin Yi-shi corruption scandal. The truth has yet to fully emerge. But Wu's integrity has already been cast in doubt. Wu's response so far shows that if he hopes to climb the political ladder, he must work on his deportment, his speech, his image, his rhetoric, and his logic. If Wu loses his footing, the KMT's bid for the presidency in 2016 will be even more difficult. The KMT's candidates for president and vice president in 2016 may be late bloomers. They may lack a firm footing in the community.
By contrast, the DPP's candidates for 2016 are already finalized. It will either be Su Tseng-chang or Tsai Ing-wen. Wang Jin-pyng has paid a late night visit to Tsai Ing-wen. Yao Li-ming has joined the Xiao Ying Foundation. The DPP has put popular approval ahead of internecine rivalry. Tsai has moved faster than Su. She also has a lead on potential KMT competitors. The DPP's problem is not with its 2016 candidates, but with its cross-Strait policy. If the DPP can forsake its outdated cross-Strait policy, a third ruling party change in 2016 is entirely possible.
The U.S. beef imports bill, the capital gains tax bill, and the gasoline and electricity rate hike bill are all reasonable and legitimate bills. Rebels within the KMT sabotaged the party from within. They thought they were merely bickering within the party. They thought they were merely provoking a tempest in a teapot. But their meaningless infighting created a grossly misleading impression of "Ma Ying-jeou incompetence." It exacted a terrible social cost. It made many people contemptuous and resentful of the KMT. In 2016 the KMT candidates will be late bloomers. They will undergo a difficult birth. The party may have trouble undoing the negative impression people have of it. It may not be able to rehabilitate its image. It lacks outstanding candidates. How is it going to clear the hurdles in 2014 and 2016?
If President Ma hopes to save the day, and turn the tide, he can no longer hem and haw. Between 2000 and 2008, the DPP "won the election, but lost its direction." Its eight years in office proved that the "rectification of names" Taiwan independence route is infeasible. Ma Ying-jeou must stay the course. He must remind himself that "we lost the election, but found our direction." The KMT may lose the general election in 2016. Nevertheless it must create a well-thought out cross-Strait policy and ECA Roadmap. The big picture will not change in 2016. As long as his direction is correct, Ma Ying-jeou's historical legacy is assured.