Can the DPP Win in 2012?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
May 25, 2010
"Without a victory in the five mayoral elections, there can be no victory in 2012." This is the DPP's strategic perspective. Today Tsai Ing-wen is personally participating in the five mayoral elections, turning it into a showdown. But whether the DPP will win in 2012 is another story.
If the Democratic Progressive Party wants to win the 2012 presidential election, it must pass three tests. It must also deal successfully with Beijing.
Let us first address the three tests it must pass. One. This amounts to a showdown over the nation's political and economic path. Tsai Ing-wen has said that if the Democratic Progressive Party assumes power, it will hold a referendum to abolish ECFA. She also said that "[the DPP] has no intention of removing the Taiwan independence clause from its party constitution." In other words, it has no intention of transforming the party with regards national identity and cross-Strait policy. But the question is, will the public on Taiwan allow a Democratic Progressive Party that holds such views to control the levers of the nation? Two. The DPP may take advantage of the five mayoral elections to revise its political and economic path in accordance with Tsai Ing-wen's "Political Platform for the Coming Decade." But does the public on Taiwan believe a DPP subject to being hijacked from within offer the possibility of genuine reform? Three. Su Tseng-chang and Tsai Ing-wen are enacting out the "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers." If Su Tseng-chang and Tsai Ing-wen win the Taipei City and Xinbei City mayoral elections, they will of course take advantage of the victory to run for president in 2012. If they lose they will have no choice but to enter the presidential race. In other words, Su Tseng-chang and Tsai Ing-wen's entry into the five mayoral races merely confirm that for the Democratic Progressive Party the five mayoral elections are merely a springboard for the presidential election. But will the public on Taiwan condone the Democratic Progressive Party's manipulation of the elections in such a manner?
Now let us talk about how the DPP will tackle Beijing. The DPP has yet to effectively transform itself from within. Now suddenly it wants to participate in a higher level political battle for control of the ROC government. It has already complicated cross-Strait relations. Signs suggest the Democratic Progressive Party may return to power. Will Beijing continue to adopt liberal policies toward Taipei? Or will it adopt more stringent policies? The hour of decision approaches. Opposition to ECFA will be perceived as a "hate [mainland] China" stance. If the DPP persists in its "hate [mainland] China" stance, Beijing will of course retaliate against it. Such pressures will naturally be felt by a large part of the political and economic spectrum on Taiwan. This will land the DPP in a dilemma. If it fails to incite hatred of mainland China, it will forfeit it election theme. If it incites hatred of mainland China, It will find it difficult to deal with the repercussions.
If Tsai Ing-wen had not entered the mayoral race, she might have had a buffering effect. But now that Tsai has entered the race, the Blue and Green camps on Taiwan will have to lay their cards on the table in advance. The DPP will also have to have a showdown with Beijing ahead of schedule. The two years leading up to 2012 will probably be filled with of tension, internally and across the Taiwan Strait. Will the so-called "cross-Strait opportunity" be aborted? Will the "Window of opportunity" be closed? The answer requires close observation.
The DPP has taken a final stand. It has painted itself into a corner. Its back is against the wall. It has also painted everyone else on Taiwan into the same corner. As mentioned earlier, the Democratic Progressive Party has yet to alter its policies regarding national identity and cross-Strait relations. It has adopted an anti-ECFA election theme shot through with hatred for mainland China. It has In effect, decided to have a showdown with both the public on Taiwan and the authorities in Beijing. It has effectively painted itself and the public on Taiwan into a corner. Furthermore, Su Tseng-chang and Tsai Ing-wen have entered the five mayoral races. They stand shoulder to shoulder. They have made clear that win or lose, the two will help each other out in the 2012 presidential race. This too has effectively painted them and the public on Taiwan into the same corner.
For the DPP, the five mayoral elections will be a battle rife with contradictions. On the one hand, it must keep hatred of mainland China and ECFA at a boil. On the other hand it must peddle a credible political and economic vision to the voters. What is this, if not a self-contradiction? What is this, if not flagrant deceit? On the one hand it must attempt to win all five cities. On the other hand, Su Tseng-chang and Tsai Ing-wen intend to run in the 2012 presidential election whether they win or lose. Their political and economic path is self-contradictory. It is flagrantly deceitful. It will grossly distort the five mayoral races and their aftermath. They will subject Taiwan to internal divisions. Upsets in the cross-Strait situation will be unavoidable.
The KMT must treat the five mayoral races as a battle to retain political power in 2012. One might say the only way the KMT can win is to persuade the public to see ECFA as a symbol of the nation's political and economic path. Su Tseng-chang and Tsai Ing-wen are reasonably well-respected by the public on Taiwan. If the KMT cannot win the hearts and minds of the public on the basis of its political and economic path, it may well lose the election. Practically speaking, the KMT cannot afford to bungle the ECFA signing in June. It cannot afford to give the DPP any openings.
The DPP has a chance to win the 2012 presidential election. After all, the Democratic Progressive Party is a political party that won in 2000 and 2004. It lost power because it brought disaster upon the nation, and caused the entire nation to turn against it. It has now painted itself into a corner. For the moment it should not ask whether it will win in 2012. Instead, it should ask itself whether a victory for the DPP in 2012 would be a blessing or a curse? Would it be a way out, or a dead end?
2010.05.25 02:10 am