Will the DPP Win Back Taiwan from the Local Level, or Lose It?
United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
October 28, 2014
Executive Summary: The DPP must beware. It must not forget the strategic picture while campaigning in local elections. It must not assume that local elections are some sort of stepping stone to central government power. That day could well be the day the DPP "loses Taiwan." After all, the Democratic Progressive Party ruled Taiwan for eight long years, yet it almost "lost Taiwan."
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The DPP's campaign slogan for the nine in one elections is "Win Back Taiwan from the Local Level." Based on election trends, the DPP appears likely to win these local elections. But then what? Will the DPP win back Taiwan, or lose it? That remains to be seen.
The DPP speaks of "winning back Taiwan." It means that if it wins the nine in one elections, the pan green vote nationwide will increase, and lay the foundation for victory in the 2016 presidential election, and a return to power. But even supposing the DPP wins the 2016 presidential election, is that really the same as "winning back Taiwan?" More importantly, is that really the same as Taiwan winning?
The notion of "winning back Taiwan from the local level" is nothing new. During the 1990s, the DPP's formula was "beseige the central government from the local level." Later, Chen Shui-bian won the 2000 presidential election because the KMT vote was divided, But it did not "win back Taiwan." If anything, it nearly "lost Taiwan." Clearly it can win elections at the local level. It can even win them at the central government level. But seizing central governing power does not necessarily equate with "winning back Taiwan."
When Chen Shui-bian took office, he announced his "five noes" policy. He paid his respects to his ancient Chinese forebears. He even declared his acceptance of the 1992 Consensus in the presence of foreign guests. Alas, the very next day Chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council Tsai Ing-wen vetoed his declaration. The Beijing government then announced it would be "listening to what he said, and watching what he did." Eventually Chen reverted to the controversial path of "rectification of names," the "authoring of a new constitution," and "demanding a referendum on UN membership." Cross-Strait and Taipei-Washington relations endured turbulence and tension. Clearly, winning at the local level was not enough to "win back Taiwan." If one's international and cross-Strait policies are losing propositions, one cannot "win back Taiwan." One may even "lose Taiwan."
Voters are indifferent to the current nine in one elections. Twelve year compulsory education, food safety, and Sunflower Student Movement generational deprivation are the major issues. Trivial quarrels over "one hole" and "a single sweet potato" are minor issues. Almost completely forgotten are strategic issues and sensitive cross-Strait issues. Given the current atmosphere, the DPP might well win the nine in one elections. But if it stumbles on strategic and cross-Strait issues, it is likely to "lose Taiwan."
The current nine in one elections show that Taiwan faces two crises. One. Political leaders have failed to pass the baton to the next generation. Two. Strategic issues are being ignored. First take the failure of political leaders to pass the baton. The political atmosphere is harsh. Political appointees are unqualified. Political candidates have gone from bad to worse. For example, Taipei mayors have traditionally been considered presidential timber. But the Lien vs. Ko dispute has already degenerated into a farce. The public is disappointed with both the blue and green parties. Both parties lack talented successors. How else can one account for the appearance of Sean Lien and Wen-Je Ko? In New Taipei City and Taoyuan City the Kuomintang prevails. In Kaohsiung and Tainan the DPP can probably win lying down. The two parties' political stars are weary. Their successors are non-existent. A few political superstars are shoo-ins. Newcomers are inferior to their predecessors. Men of superior abilty consider elective office beneath them. Taiwan's political scene has lost its ability to attract men of talent. Electoral politics has no room for them. Therefore mediocre people must stand in for them in a variant of Gresham's Law.
Strategic issues are ignored. Men of talent flee. Elections are trivialized. Taiwan today face two major strategic challenges. One. The process of globalization. Two. Sensitive cross-Strait issues. These two are intertwined. As a result of the nine in one local elections, the DPP refuses to budge on the STA and FEPZ regulations. This has delayed the MTA and the establishment of cross-Strait representative offices. In which case, how can one join the TPP and RCEP, and "win back Taiwan?" Is this not a contradiction? The general public has completely forgotten about globalization and sensitive cross-Strait issues. Given such an atmosphere, what are the DPP's boasts that it intends to "win back Taiwan from the local level?" other than pure balderdash?
Taiwan's strategic plight and its future have been totally forgotten during the current election, The aforementioned two issues continue to deteriorate. As previously noted, they are intertwined. We now face sensitive cross-Strait issues. These make it difficult for Taiwan to face the challenges of globalization. Even the Ma administration's "1992 consensus" and "one China, different interpretations" may be unsustainable. Recently, the Mainland accused the Ma administration of "misjudging the situation," of butting heads with the Mainland, of "resisting Mainland China" to the bitter end, of cozying up to the green camp, and even of "merging the blue camp with the green camp." The CCP blasted the Ma government. One can only imagine how it would deal with the DPP in the event it returned to power. After all, the DPP opposes the 1992 consensus. It clings to the Taiwan independence party platform. It persists in undermining cross-Strait agreements. The CCP is twisting the arm of the Ma administration. If the DPP returns to power, the CCP would surely redouble its efforts. How then would the DPP "win back Taiwan from the local level?"
The DPP must beware. It must not forget the strategic picture while campaigning in local elections. It must not assume that local elections are some sort of stepping stone to central government power. That day could well be the day the DPP "loses Taiwan." After all, the Democratic Progressive Party ruled Taiwan for eight long years, yet it almost "lost Taiwan."
2014.10.28 02:08 am