Ma Ying-jeou: Another Obama?
China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC) A Translation
November 6, 2014
Executive Summary: Many people think that the nine in one elections are merely local elections, unrelated
to the central government. That is not the case. The most important
factor in local government leader elections is how voters feel about
individual candidates. This however, is followed by the political
climate and public sentiment toward overall national policy. It is easy
for voters to feel an imaginary sense of security, and to conclude that
local elections have nothing to do with larger national policy. In
fact, the election results will have a high degree of influence on
political dynamics and public approval. They will affect the nation's
overall policy direction, including the direction of cross-Strait
Full Text Below:
The Democratic Party has been thoroughly thrashed in the midterm elections in the US. The Republicans now control a majority in both the Senate and House of Representatives. They have also made enormous gains in the gubernatorial races, especially in Obama's home state of Illinois. Former Democratic President Bill Clinton's hometown also went Republican. Even the traditionally liberal Maryland Governorship went Republican for the very first time in history.
The Democratic Party debacle was no surprise. Observers were not optimistic about the Democratic Party's prospects in the midterm elections. In an interview just before the election, even Obama acknowledged this. The Democratic Party now faces its biggest challenge in 50 years. The election results have merely confirmed widespread predictions.
The midterm elections in the US may have taken place on other side of the Pacific. But the public on Taiwan has a sense of deja vu. They almost foretell the results of the upcoming November nine in one elections on Taiwan. Given the KMT's dismal election prospects, the results of the midterm elections in the US should set off alarm bells for President Ma Ying-jeou and the KMT. The situation on Taiwan bears a number of remarkable similarities to the situation in the United States. Nevertheless, they are not identical. The public on Taiwan must be clear about that. They must avoid conclusions that lead to erroneous actions.
The Democratic Party defeat will impact America's political scene on two levels. One. Political forces have ebbed and flowed. The political map has been redrawn. This will affect the 2016 US presidential election.The Democrats' defeat in the midterm elections, leaves the Democrats in a highly disadvantageous situation for the 2016 presidential election.
This is also true on Taiwan. The nine in one election results will have a direct impact on the 2016 presidential election. If the KMT is defeated in the nine in one elections, its prospects in the 2016 presidential election will be in jeopardy. It will greatly increase the chance of a change in ruling parties. Conversely, if under such adverse circumstances, the KMT manages to hold the line, or suffers only a minor setback, the leadership of the DPP and likely DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen, will find themselves under fire from within their own party. She will be asked why given such advantages, the results were so poor. Tsai Ing-wen's current status as the unchallenged leader of the DPP will come into question, and significant changes will follow.
Two. The Democrats' midterm election defeat was essentially a repudiation of Obama. This repudiation has two components. One. It is a repudiation of the past. Voters are dissatisfied with the policies promoted by the Democrats. They used the mid-term elections to express their dissatisfaction. Two. Obama lost both the House and the Senate. Over the next two years he will have a hard time promoting any of his policies. Republicans are in full control of both houses of Congress, and better able to block major legislation.
This observation can be applied to the year end nine in one elections on Taiwan.
Based on past experience, the KMT faces an even more perilous situation than the Democrats during the mid-term US elections. Obama's policies provoked a powerful backlash that undermined his reputation. Yet his approval ratings held at 40%. President Ma Ying-jeou's approval ratings may have risen slightly. But they remain stuck at the 20% level. Therefore the political climate the KMT faces on Taiwan is even less favorable than what the Democrats faced in the US. The US midterm elections were a repudiation of Obama. The repudiation of Obama's policies turned into a repudiation of the the Democratic Party during the midterm elections. If this scenario replicates itself on Taiwan, it will influence the outcome of the elections.
The US and Taiwan differ to some extent. The US midterm elections, including the congressional elections, may determine or influence national policy. The elections on Taiwan are elections for local government leaders and representatives. Even if the Kuomintang is defeated during the nine in one elections, it will remain the majority party in the legislature. Of course, this is only a technical distinction. A major defeat in the nine in one elections would influence public opinion and exert psychological pressure on the legislature. The majority KMT has long been mocked as a “majority party of chickens.“ A defeat in the nine in one elections would make the chickens even more chicken. President Ma may retain majority party status in the legislature. But that does not mean he will fare any better than the Democratic Party in the United States Congress.
In other words, ff the KMT loses the nine in one elections, President Ma's overall policy will be doubly repudiated. The most critical component of this overall policy is cross-Strait policy.
Many people think that the nine in one elections are merely local elections, unrelated to the central government. That is not the case. The most important factor in local government leader elections is how voters feel about individual candidates. This however, is followed by the political climate and public sentiment toward overall national policy. It is easy for voters to feel an imaginary sense of security, and to conclude that local elections have nothing to do with larger national policy. In fact, the election results will have a high degree of influence on political dynamics and public approval. They will affect the nation's overall policy direction, including the direction of cross-Strait policy.
Therefore the ballots cast during the nine in one elections, will not be ballots cast merely for individual candidates. They will also be ballots cast for national policy over the coming years. Some voters may feel apathy. Others may feel distaste. But voters may want to think hard about the potential consequences.