Is the PFP Blowing Smoke or Clearing the Air?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
August 11, 2011
Summary: The first wave of PFP nominations includes candidates who may be able to unseat KMT candidates in their own electoral districts. But most observers do not believe the PFP candidates themselves can get elected. The KMT and PFP candidates can only ensure mutual defeat and a DPP victory. Voters will conclude that a vote for the PFP is a vote for the DPP. The PFP may attempt to cloud the issue. But voters will resist any split. The opposite may happen. As the smoke clears, the PFP may be marginalized. The PFP can cloud the issue, or it can allow the smoke to clear. But the fact remains, the PFP is in a no-win situation.
Full Text below:
Yesterday James Soong officially announced the first wave of People First Party (PFP) legislative candidates. Is the power struggle between the KMT and the PFP generating a Fog of War? Or is this a sign that the smoke is finally clearing?
James Soong and the PFP may find themselves in a dilemma. The PFP after all, seeks primarily Blue Camp votes, If the PFP escalates its confrontation with the KMT, it may anger Pan Blue voters, making it difficult for PFP candidates to win support. On the other hand, if it keeps a low profile, it will have no issues to run on, This too will make it difficult for PFP candidates to attract votes. In other words, the People First Party may have entered the fray. But it is caught on the horns of a dilemma. Neither raising a ruckus nor laying low will enable it to win votes.
Soong's recent reentry into the political arena, was initially driven by emotion. The immediate reaction of voters was also predominantly emotional. But once the election begins in earnest, Soong will find it difficult to stir up voter sentiment. The more he stirs the pot, the more he will provoke resentment. The more he will inspire voter doubts and fears. The public may become indifferent. Emotions are fleeting, In the long run, candidates must rely on rational discussion and persuasion. The PFP is no exception.
PFP candidates raised the possibility of running for office. They precipitated a tempest in a teapot. But less than a week later, the smoke was already beginning to clear. At first, the People First Party openly denounced the "Ma/King establishment," saying it had "wreaked havoc upon the nation." Two days later however, they assured voters that they firmly "supported Ma's cross-Strait policy and foreign policy," and that they firmly "supported President Ma's reelection bid." This of course raises a question. Why would the PFP firmly "support" the reelection bid of a president who had "wreaked havoc upon the nation?" The PFP wanted to stir up voter sentiment. But voter sentiment invariably settles back down. As we can see, the PFP is caught in a dilemma.
In fact, when the PFP officially announced its candidates, it may have calmed voter sentiment. The PFP "supports Ma's cross-strait policy." The DPP promises voters that "if we return to power, we will continue the previous administration's cross-Strait policy." The PFP and the DPP are unable to find fault with President Ma's cross-Strait policy. Therefore in response to election season, they are attempting to cloud the issues. But given the Big Picture, the more they attempt to cloud the issues, the faster the smoke will dissipate, and the clearer the situation will become.
The PFP touts James Soong as a man of ability. The implication is that President Ma is "incompetent." It argues that President Ma's cross-Strait policy deserves support. But Ma is "incompetent." Therefore the PFP is reluctant to support President Ma's reelection bid. Therefore the KMT must be deprived of its absolute majority in the legislature, and the PFP must be allowed to play the role of a "deciding minority." But this contradictory and feeble argument does not hold water. If President Ma is that "incompetent," how can we possibly support his re-election? If the KMT loses its absolute majority in the legislature, how will that address the problem of President Ma's alleged "incompetence?" Suppose the People First Party is elected to the legislature? Consider the negative precedent set by the "Chen/Soong Meeting." Can they really gain peoples' trust? Besides, Ma's record may be unsatisfactory in many ways. His restrained style may come across as stiff and irresolute. But to characterize it as "incompetent" is uncalled for. The fact is: when President Ma assumed office, the situation on Taiwan was the worst it has been in two decades. Since he assumed office, the situation, in many ways, is the best it has been in two decades. Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian loved making political waves. They wreaked havoc upon the nation. Yet their conduct is characterized as "capable." On the other hand, Ma Ying-jeou's introverted, restrained, and reserved style is characterized as "incompetent."
President Ma does deserve to be reprimanded in certain areas. But the Ma administration led the nation out of the financial tsunami. It enabled the two sides to proceed down a win/win road toward "peaceful development." It helped people escape the nightmare of endless battles over reunification vs. independence, The Ma administration has been free of corruption scandals, It has restored judicial independence, One hundred and seventeen nations now grant the ROC visa-free treatment. The diplomatic truce has saved hundreds of billions of hard earned ROC taxpayer dollars. Consider the recent stock market crash and U.S. debt, Cabinet members such as Sean Chen may lack charisma. But when push comes to shove, they are far from "incompetent." The public must not equate fast-talking snake oil salesmen such as Chen Shui-bian and Frank Hsieh with "men of ability." It must not naively characterize mild-mannered Ma administration officials such as Sean Chen as "incompetent." The People First Party must not parrot everything the DPP says. This is an issue that can be easily obscured. In the end, the smoke will clear and the truth will emerge.
The first wave of PFP nominations includes candidates who may be able to unseat KMT candidates in their own electoral districts. But most observers do not believe the PFP candidates themselves can get elected. The KMT and PFP candidates can only ensure mutual defeat and a DPP victory. Voters will conclude that a vote for the PFP is a vote for the DPP. The PFP may attempt to cloud the issue. But voters will resist any split. The opposite may happen. As the smoke clears, the PFP may be marginalized. The PFP can cloud the issue, or it can allow the smoke to clear. But the fact remains, the PFP is in a no-win situation.
2011.08.11 02:31 am