Two Green Camp Suns: Winning and Losing Strategies
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
October 14, 2013
Summary: The KMT's prospects in the 2016 general election are grim. The DPP could make a comeback. It could regain power. Su Tseng-chang has called for a no confidence vote. This is an opportunity for the DPP to decide which sun it wants to keep. If the no confidence vote is successfull, and leads to the dissolution of the legislature, Chairman Su will have a major achievement under his belt. Tsai Ing-wen's chances will be diminished. But if Su treats the TISA debate lightly, can he really win the 2016 party nomination?
Full text below:
In 2012, the DPP lost its second consecutive bid for the presidency to the Ma Ying-jeou led KMT. For the past two years, a delicate balance of power has prevailed. This phenomenon is well known, but only tacitly acknowledged. The ruling and opposition parties know about it. So does the public. It is the "two suns phenomenon." Both suns shine in the Green Camp sky. Each attempts to outshine the other. The DPP risks being scorched in the process. In 2016, two years from now, perhaps even as early as next year's party chairmanship election, one of these two suns must defeat the other. One of them must regain political power on behalf of the DPP in a highly promising presidential election.
These two suns, as everyone knows, are Su Tseng-chang and Tsai Ing-wen. Su Tseng-chang is currenly party chairman. Tsai Ing-wen currenly holds no party or government post. But Tsai Ing-wen has far more real world influence. Logically there ought to be only one sun in the sky. But currently there are two. The sun outside the system shines brighter and hotter than the sun inside the system. This is obviously not normal.
As time goes by, something will surely go wrong.
But the political sky is changing. The two suns scenario is quietly changing. Tsai Ing-wen appears to be the sole remaining sun in the Green Camp sky. Su Tseng-chang appears to be "ball lightning." He appears to be a moon with only reflected light. His rays grow steadily dimmer. They now shine feebly despite his desperate attempts to keep his flame alive through controversy.
Ma Ying-jeou won re-election in 2012. Even before he was reinaugurated, he mishandled a series of natural and man-made calamaties, including U.S. beef imports, gasoline price hikes, electricity rate hikes, capital gains taxes, and other political and public welfare issues. His bungling alienated the public and provoked a storm of criticism. Even the U.S. based CNN referred to President Ma as "This man." The media and pundits are not optimistic that the situation will improve during his term. His poll numbers are even more lackluster.
On the other hand, poll results show that loss of support for Ma Ying-jeou and the KMT does not equal increased support for the DPP. The KMT may be on life support. But a deathly pall hangs over the DPP as well. The DPP may curse and criticize. It may worsen the chaos. But the public does not consider the DPP rational and responsible, in either its words and deeds. Support for the ruling party has declined. But the opposition party has also failed to meet voter expectations. Its support cannot increase. DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang only knows how to lash out at Ma, how to throw obstacles in the way of Tsai, and how to pander to Ah-Bian. He has nothing constructive to offer. Needless to say, the voters are rapidly seeing through his act.
Voters are disappointed in Su. That does not mean they have given up on the DPP as a whole. The past year has been described as a "power vacuum" and a "sterile state." This has enabled Tsai Ing-wen to take the high road. This has enabled her to adopt high-minded positions on cross-Strait policy, ruling vs. opposition party confrontation, and public policy. This has naturally met with the approval of most voters. Over the past year, Tsai Ing-wen has been buttressed by feel-good voter sentiment. She has been energetically visiting academic institutions, university students, and business owners, both at home and abroad. Grassroots reaction has been positive. She has been able to offer timely proposals on the Number Four Nuclear Power Plant, on a proposed National Policy Conference, on 12 year compulsory education, on the ongoing conflict between Ma and Wang, and other major issues. This have differentiated her from Su Tseng-chang, and even forced Su Tseng-chang to follow in her footsteps.
The contrast is dramatic. Just one month ago, Su Tseng-chang convened a seminar on the merits of Chen Shui-bian's eight years in office. Meanwhile, Tsai Ing-wen invited Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe 's economic adviser Koo Tsao-ming to address "The Challenge of Abenomics," and its economic relevance for Taipei, Tokyo, and Beijing. He was the third heavyweight academic Tsai Ing-wen invited to Taiwan. Previous guests include former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's global affairs adviser [Henry?] Sauermann, and Cao Yuan Zheng, chief economist for the Bank of China.
Tsai Ing-wen stubbornly refuses to recognize the 1992 consensus. But otherwise, she has differentiated herself from Su Tseng-chang. She is the Green Camp "sun" who has done the most homework regarding international relations and economics, the two issues most important to Taiwan and to swing voters. By contrast, Su Tseng-chang promoted the mass recruitment of underworld figures into the party. He used the Taipei Mayor's high approval ratings to block Tsai. He enabled the corrupt former President Chen Shui-bian to rejoin the party. He backed Ker Chien-ming, who is under indictment for exerting undue influence on the criminal justice system. He remains indifferent and silent on legislative reform. He resorts to rrickery to consolidate his position. He thinks only of lashing out at Ma. His attention is focused entirely on the 2016 general election and the party nomination.
Su Tseng-chang is making a show of demanding a no confidence vote. He ran from a debate on TISA. Is Chairman Su playing for keeps? No one knows for sure. But he cannot afford to run away once more. Su Tseng-chang has demanded a no confidence vote. He must remain politically accountable. Whether KMT legislators self-destruct is not the DPP's concern. But if DPP legislators defect come voting time, the party chairman will have to answer to the party as a whole.
The KMT's prospects in the 2016 general election are grim. The DPP could make a comeback. It could regain power. Su Tseng-chang has called for a no confidence vote. This is an opportunity for the DPP to decide which sun it wants to keep. If the no confidence vote is successfull, and leads to the dissolution of the legislature, Chairman Su will have a major achievement under his belt. Tsai Ing-wen's chances will be diminished. But if Su treats the TISA debate lightly, can he really win the 2016 party nomination?