Thursday, January 31, 2008

The President and the Character Issue

The President and the Character Issue
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 31, 2008

Over the past few days, DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh, by playing his "green card," left the Ma Ying-jeou camp scrambling to play catch up. First denials. Then press conferences. First aides speak. Then text messages offer clarifications. In terms of election tactics, media spin control, and viewer perception, the Hsieh camp has certainly demonstrated its combat effectiveness. But after such attention-grabbing campaign ploys, we would like to ask a more profound question: What kind of president does the Republic of China need in the coming years? Voters need to first consider this issue. Only then can they arrive at a clear judgment concerning the green card controversy.

Citizens of the Republic of China need to ask what kind of leadership the nation needs. They need to make comparisons with past presidents. Peoples' expectations vary with their social context. If their lives are predictable and boring, they may long for something new. If their lives are in turmoil, they may long for a steady leader. As we look back at the pain inflicted upon the people over the past eight years, it is not hard to guess what the people on Taiwan hope for.

President Chen has been in office for eight years. No one on the island, no one on the other side of the Taiwan Strait, no one among our foreign allies trusts our national leader. To opposition leaders such as Lien Chan, Chen Shui-bian will pretend to listen attentively to suggestions on the issue of nuclear power generation, even as he is announcing the suspension of construction on the No. Four Nuclear Plant. To Beijing, he will announce his Five Noes Policy, then do a complete about face by proclaiming "One Nation, Each Side." To Washington, he will promise to maintain the status quo for the duration of his term, then abruptly declare that Taiwan must join the United Nations under the name of Taiwan. He will hammer away relentlessly at "nativism," integrity, and "love for Taiwan," all the while winking as his relatives and cronies engage in corruption, the abuse of power, and bullying behavior . It is said that "A man is only as good as his word." Because its leaders are capricious and untrustworthy, the DPP has nothing to show for its eight years in office. Take Taipei/Washington relations for example. The US once staunchly supported the DPP. Now Chen Shui-bian is no longer allowed to transit the continental United States. US officials of all ranks have been issuing stern warnings to the DPP. This is a sign of their intense frustration with a capricious president whose solemn assurances mean nothing.

In fact, citizens of the ROC feel the same way as the USA. Uncle Sammy is sick to death of the DPP manipulating cross-straits relations and so-called "ethnic divisions," more precisely "social tensions." Mainland China plays an increasingly important role on the world economic stage. Therefore a chill in cross-strait relations is tantamount to a freeze in Taiwan's economic environment. During the past eight years, most Taiwan businesses have taken this fact to heart and hope to see change. Citizens of the ROC understand that the key to improved cross-strait relations is mutual trust. Not insincere lip service. Not semantic games. Not sophistry. Not the belated invoking of "hard logic" as an excuse to break off talks. As long as leaders are content to play smarmy word games with "active management, effective opening," or "active opening, effective management," or "case by case, flexible management," then neither cross-strait relations nor Taiwan's economic situation can improve.

Only after understanding the public's expectations, can we comment on Ma Ying-jeou's green card controversy. We agree with Jason Hu. He did not believe it was necessary to dig up dirt on the candidates' past. Twenty years ago, Ma Ying-jeou held a green card. He wasn't a government official back then. His future was uncertain. He may have considered becoming a lawyer in the United States. Possession of a green card can hardly be considered an act of treason. In the 20 years since, every time Ma Ying-jeou entered the United States he applied for a visa. Substantively speaking the "green card" issue is a non-issue. Public criticism has concentrated on the Ma Ying-jeou camp's underestimation of its opponent and its inept handling of the matter. The public has not faulted Ma for having held a green card. By contrast, the media has been awed by the Hsieh camp's sophistication in setting its agendas, designing its pitfalls, and entrapping its opponent. But are such tactics conducive to Hsieh' election campaign? We really can't say.

When the Ma Ying-jeou camp was tripping over its own tongue trying to get its story straight, the public decided that Ma Ying-jeou's campaign committee was a bunch of klutzes, that the KMT's election moves were not terribly well coordinated. When Frank Hsieh used the green card issue on his opponent, the public agreed that the way his team waged his election campaign was indeed slick. It wasn't far from Su Tseng-chang's characterization of Frank Hsieh last year. Su called Hsieh "conniving." Following the Legislative Yuan debacle, Frank Hsieh promised to take the middle road, to compete against KMT presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou in a gentlemanly fashion. He promised not to persist in practices that made people disgusted with the DPP. But within two short weeks the Hsieh campaign was back to muck-raking and mud-slinging. We have no desire to pass judgment on the two camps' election strategies. We merely wish to remind citizens of the Republic of China not to allow the candidates to lead you around by the nose, by means of tactical ploys. Maintain a strategic vision. Think about what character traits a President of the Republic of China ought to have. Once you have thought this question through, the details are not that important.

Fifty years ago, both Ma and Hsieh were awarded Gold Stars for Good Behavior in kindergarten. Does anyone really care about such matters today?









Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Is the Republic of China's Democracy Regressing?

Is the Republic of China's Democracy Regressing?
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 30, 2008

As we approach the presidential election, the Democratic Progressive Party has been warning people that if the DPP loses the presidential election on the heels of the legislative election, the Republic of China will return to a one-party state, and that the ROC's democracy may regress. DPP legislators are also demanding a constitutional interpretation. They are challenging the constitutionality of the single member district electoral system, claiming that it violates the principle that "all votes should be equal." Chen Shui-bian meanwhile has rejected the Chang Chun-hsiung cabinet's resignation. He has made clear all personnel are to remain put. Faced with so many uncertain political developments, and knowing that democracy must not regress, we have made the following observations.

First of all, for a single political party to win a stable majority in the legislature, win the presidential election, gaining control over both the executive and legislative branches, is entirely consistent with the requirements of democracy. It is not a regressive step, as long as it is the people's free choice, as expressed by their votes. In every presidential, semi-presidential, or dual-leadership system in the world, a single political party often gains control of both the legislative and executive branches following an election. This is hardly something to be alarmed about. In every cabinet system state in the world, the party that wins a stable majority in the parliament automatically gains control of both the legislative and executive branches. This is the democratic norm. On the contrary, it is divided government that is abnormal. It is abnormal for a party that has won a majority in the legislative and presidential elections to be relegated to the status of an opposition party for eight years. For democracy to advance from abnormal to normal can only be described as progress, not regress.

Eight years ago, the KMT lost the presidential election, but retained a majority in the Legislative Yuan. The KMT handed over executive power to president elect Chen Shui-bian, who mocked the legislature as representatives of the "old mandate." Chen proclaimed that he was the representative of a "new mandate," despite the fact that he received merely 39% of the votes. Times have changed. Now the president would appear to be the representative of the "old mandate." Yet when confronting the legislature, which represents a new mandate, he denounces it as a setback for democracy. Does this wash? Only voters who vote for the DPP represent the people. Voters who vote for rival political parties do not represent the people. What is truly regressive is the DPP's anti-democratic attitude.

Secondly, as they approach the end of their terms, DPP legislators have filed a challenge to the constitutionality of the single member district electoral system. Is this progressive, or regressive? Never mind that the new electoral system was something the DPP demanded, a key plank in its policy platform. Never mind that it required a constitutional amendment, one that the DPP rammed through the legislature by holding a hunger strike. The DPP is now doing an about face. It is now denouncing its own system for unfairness based on the outcome of the election. Forget the DPP's contempt for the democratic process. How about its utter lack of sportsmanship? Their constitutional challenge alleges that the single member district electoral system violates the constitutional principle that "all votes should be equal." But the single member district electoral system was subjected to the referendum process. It was the result of a constitutional amendment. How can one demand that a written provision already part of a constitutional amendment be declared unconstitutional? The single member district electoral system has been applied to the administrative districts of municipalities and counties, all in accordance with constitutional requirements. How can these be considered unconstitutional? Is the DPP trying to tell us that single member district electoral systems are unconstitutional per se? This is unheard of. We have no desire to get too exercised over the fact that such unheard of constitutional challenges will be presented to the Grand Justices. What worries us is the anti-democratic attitude behind the DPP's refusal to admit defeat. It is akin to the host of a tournament complaining that the home team lost because the host's ground rules were unfair. To refuse to accept the outcome of a game merely because one lost is hardly a democratic and progressive attitude.

Thirdly, the requirement that the Chang Chun-hsiung cabinet resign at the end of the legislative term is not mere convention. It is a clear cut requirement imposed by the Grand Justices during a previous constitutional interpretation (Interpretation 387). The Chang Chun-hsiung cabinet submitted its joint resignation. What right does the president have to decide that the Grand Justices' interpretation of the constitution no longer applies? Can a president wilfully ignore the Grand Justices' interpretation of the constitution? Why did President Chen retain the cabinet by rejecting its joint resignation? The Grand Justices have already explained that the resignation of a cabinet at the end of a legislative term is a "compulsory resignation." The cabinet must resign. It has no choice. Nor can the president refuse to accept its resignation. (Interpretations 387, 419) If on the other hand, the cabinet resigns during the president's term of office, its resignation is a "courtesy resignation." (Interpretation 419). In other words, it can either resign or not resign. For Chen Shui-bian to reject the cabinet's resignation is contrary to constitutional intent. His hidden agenda is to retain the cabinet. If Hsieh is elected president, the cabinet will stage a showdown with the legislature. It will respond only to the president. It will refuse to respond to the legislature. If Ma Ying-jeou is elected president, the cabinet can then refuse to submit courtesy resignations. Since the Grand Justices have said they have no obligation to resign in such a case, the cabinet will refuse to resign and refuse to hand over executive power. If the legislature attempts to bring down the cabinet via a vote of no-confidence, the Executive Yuan will demand a constitutional interpretation. The DPP will allege that the electoral system for the legislative elections is unconstitutional. It has already filed an appeal for a constitutional interpretation, alleging that the legislature has no legitimacy. If the ruling regime's overall strategy is to selectively twist the meaning of the constitution, and to refuse to hand over power when defeated at the polls, that can hardly be termed democratic and progressive.

The ruling DPP is displaying utter contempt for the new public mandate. It is demanding constitutional interpretations to negate the results of the parliamentary elections. It is resorting to unconstitutional means to reject the cabinet resignation. It is attempting to leave open the possibility of refusing to hand over political power in the event of a debacle in the presidential election. We have good reason to worry that the Republic of China's system of constitutional government is on the verge of regression. The ruling DPP may well attempt to split asunder a duly elected government by such unconstitutional and underhanded means. Let us hope are fears are unfounded.

中國時報 2008.01.30 







Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Negative Constitutional Precedent:

A Negative Constitutional Precedent: Chen Shui-bian destroys the System before his Departure
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 29, 2008

During his final cabinet reshuffle, President Chen did not assume a humble posture in response to changed public opinion. On the contrary. By turning down the cabinet resignation, he retained Premier Chang Chun-hsiung. By doing so he checked the new legislature. Chen Shui-bian claims he is establishing a new "constitutional precedent." In fact, he is merely flaunting his characteristic egocentricity and indifference to the nation's larger interests.

After eight years in office he has no achievements to speak of. Yet he wants to give constitutional rule a final swift kick before he leaves. Chen Shui-bian's thinking is simply incomprehensible. Chen Shui-bian talks a good game. He said he wanted to avoid another cabinet resignation three months from now. But the Constitution mandates that "the Executive Yuan must be responsible to the Legislative Yuan." The new cabinet must resign before the establishment of the new legislature. This protocol is part of the relationship between the cabinet and the legislature. Chen Shui-bian's refusal to accept the resignation of his cabinet is tantamount to defying the constitution, to an unconstitutional power grab. A president with hardly any time left in his term, casually invents a pretext for indiscriminate constitutional violations. Is this how Chen Shui-bian demonstrates his "love for Taiwan?"

In fact Chen Shui-bian's last cabinet is merely a caretaker government. Its responsibility is merely to maintain the basic functions of government and not make any untoward changes. Those officials deemed most unfit should be replaced. If possible the cabinet should be strengthened with new appointments. Unfortunately this is the farthest thing from Chen Shui-bian's mind. Chen is not concerned about how to respond to the people's expectations, or even how to restore the image of the DPP. Chen is concerned only with how many more photo ops he can enjoy and how many cards he can play before he is forced to step down. This is why he rejected the cabinet resignation.

In other words, Chen's rejection of the cabinet resignation is a declaration that "Chang Chun-hsiung is going to stay right where he is." Chen Shui-bian could have chosen to abide by the constitution. He could have first accepted the cabinet resignation, then reappointed Chang Chun-hsiung. That would have achieve the same purpose. But Chen Shui-bian was unwilling to follow due process. He devised his "turning down the cabinet resignation" ploy. He concocted his "stabilizing the political arrangement" pretext. All to conceal the ugly reality of his own constitutional violations.

A president with little time left in his term, is still racking his brains trying to destroy the system and create conflict. A Bian's unauthorized "rejection of the cabinet resignation" was a flagrant usurpation of the authority of the legislature. It was a demonstration of open contempt for the newly elected legislature, an open provocation. Under such circumstances, how can the ruling and opposition parties reconcile and coexist? What is most absurd is that over the past eight years a president who has been relentlessly creating chaos is now mouthing platitudes about "stabilizing the political arrangement."

In fact, we don't need need political commentators to do the analysis. People can see for themselves that Chen Shui-bian made up his mind long ago. Chang Chun-hsiung would stay put, because he is the premier over whom A Bian has the most control. But A Bian has chosen a tortuous road. He has turned this chess game into a charade. His purpose is twofold: First, to take advantage of the opposition parties and the new legislature. Second, to gain extra leverage in dealing with Frank Hsieh. Most likely the latter is purpose is has priority.

Premier Chang suddenly announced he was "resigning in advance." Then he enacted his "asked to stay on in advance" charade. On the surface we may have been entertained by a string of twists and turns. But for the Chen regime, it was business as usual. Nothing unexpected happened. Even Tu Cheng-sheng and Hsieh Chi-wei, the two officials most detested by the public, were brazenly asked to stay on following the election debacle. How does this meet with the public's expectations? The presidential office and the DPP legislative caucus joined hands and undermined Frank Hsieh's "CEO premier" trial balloon, blunting Hsieh's momentum. In effect Frank Hsieh, as the DPP's presidential candidate, lost the first battle in his struggle to blaze his own trail and deviate from the Chen Shui-bian path.

In the wake of this tempest over the cabinet, people are beginning to see Chen Shui-bian's selfish nature. Even in the final stages of his rule, Chen thinks only of himself: How to maintain his own power, how to save face, how to provide cover for his own henchmen. From the way he has hobbled Frank Hsieh, it is easy to see that even the future of the DPP means nothing to him. If he doesn't care even about the future of the Democratic Progressive Party, how can the people expect Chen's seventh cabinet reshuffle to consider the "aspirations of the people?"

It's ironic. Frank Hsieh was anxious to draw a clear line of distinction between himself and Chen Shui-bian. Instead the struggle over the cabinet Club left him caught in Chen's web, forced to dance to Chen's tune. Chang Chun-hsiung protected his rice bowl. But as a premier without a mind of his own, all he can do now is watch as his reputation and his "Benefit of the Week" policy proposals go down with Chen Shui-bian. The DPP has sunk pretty low. Although Chang Chun-hsiung may have been able to wrangle himself a third term, what has he bequeathed the party?

As Chen Shui-bian boasted, he has won another internecine struggle. He has pulled another fast one. He has successfully undermined the nation's system of constitutional rule. He may be able to gloat for a few days, but he will make the Democratic Progressive Party pay a heavy price for his behavior.

2008.01.29 03:02 am











Monday, January 28, 2008

The KMT must transcend Blue vs. Green, the DPP must return to the Truth

The KMT must transcend Blue vs. Green, the DPP must return to the Truth
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 28, 2008

Those still counting on Blue and Green core support have been swept away by a tidal wave of public opinion. Chen Shui-bian maintains that Taiwan "has no centrist voters." But his political credentials have just been stamped "null and void" by these allegedly non-existent centrist voters.

Turning Taiwan into only two colors -- Blue and Green, then spinning everything of value as Green, has been the Democratic Progressive Party's most grievous sin against the people of Taiwan. It is an even more grievous sin than its poor political record.

This sort of political culture inquires only about one's political colors. It is indifferent to right and wrong. If it is not changed, it will inflict inestimable damage upon the Republic of China. Today the Blue Camp has an absolute majority in the legislature. If Ma Ying-jeou is elected president, the KMT will have the perfect opportunity to rid us of this endless Blue vs. Green standoff, to restore a "two-toned Taiwan" to its original rich hues. This is a duty the KMT must not shirk.

To make clear political distinctions is easy. But anyone who has had a taste of Taiwan's Blue vs. Green politics in recent years, knows this two-colored universe in which "either you are with us, or you are against us" is far from desirable. Reducing every issue to two colors, to two positions, treating every value as one held by either us or them, by either friend or foe, has turned Taiwan into a demoralized realm lacking in tolerance and creativity.

Over the past eight years, Taiwan has been mired in a standoff between the ruling and opposition political camps. All society has been affected, deprived of middle ground, deprived of the right to dissent, forced to take sides. It is said that people voted "for the Blues." It would be more accurate to say that people voted "against the Greens." They opposed the Green Regime's imposition of an exclusively Green ideology and value system upon Taiwan. The people demanded liberation from the shackles of ideology. They demanded a return to right and wrong, a return to reason. If the DPP still hopes to consolidate its Deep Green core support, it is turning a deaf ear to the cries of the people.

In recent years, the Democratic Progressive Party has been in the thrall of a terrible myth. It believed it had an exclusive franchise on "Taiwanese identity." It believed that as long it shouted "We love Taiwan!" it enjoyed carte blanche. Election victories were theirs for the taking. Make no mistake, their talisman could once work miracles. But the recent election showed that their talisman has lost its magic. The main reason is the DPP has never been able link its "Taiwanese identity" with anything concrete. Under the aegis of this grand concept, one finds ... exactly nothing. To the public "Nativism" is mere idolatry. It is nothing one can sink one's teeth into. And when peoples' survival is at stake, they begin wondering whether this idol has feet of clay.

How to manifest a "Taiwanese identity" in a way that is meaningful for the people is what the DPP must think about. Rampant "Nativism" has sanctified the DPP's image.

But politics is not religion. In the end politicians must pass muster on ability, professionalism, and character. An endless string of corruption scandals involving the presidential office and DPP legislators have taken the lustre off the Green Camp's nativist halo. If the DPP refuses to admit it has distorted the truth and polarized society, it had better prepare for the next round of voter punishments.

This election was a major victory for the Blue Camp. The public could no longer tolerate stagnation, bickering, and regression. Otherwise why would they overwhelmingly choose to punish the chief culprits, Chen Shui-bian and the Democratic Progressive Party? Many small parties were squeezed out of the picture. The electorate could no longer tolerate the Blue/Green stalemate. They felt a need to grant a clear majority to the Blue Camp, to reduce the oppressive Green Camp to a minority. Only then, they felt, cold Taiwan experience a rebirth of hope.

If the KMT understands the voters' disgust with this "War of the Colors" it won't gloat over its victory. It won merely because a large number of rational voters voted Blue in order to defeat the Greens. Once it is fully in authority, the KMT must assume responsibility for breaking the bipartisan deadlock. It must unmuzzle voices that have been silenced for the past eight years. It must allow a hundred flowers to bloom. It must create more room for rational debate. It must seized the opportunity to lead Taiwan out of the 2008 recession and advance toward peace and prosperity.

The victor must adopt a broader vision that transcends Blue and Green. The defeated must humbly return to the values of the people, to right and wrong. The Blue and Green camps must not misread public opinion.

2008.01.28 03:09 am












Thursday, January 24, 2008

Unable to "manage a majority," Hsieh still wants to be President

Unable to "manage a majority," Hsieh still wants to be President
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 24, 2008

During the DPP primaries Yu Shyi-kun advocated "total government." By this he meant that the DPP, having won the presidency, should win a majority in the legislature. Yu's dream may well come true, not for the DPP, but for the KMT. During the Legislative Yuan elections Frank Hsieh boasted that if elected president, he would "manage [to get] a majority." By this he meant he would incite defections from the Blue Camp. Hsieh's boast has been shattered by the KMT's landslide victory.

Both Yu Shyi-kun's advocacy of "total government" and Frank Hsieh's dream of "managing a majority" were responses to eight frustrating years of divided government, in which the executive was controlled by the DPP, while the legislature was controlled by the opposition. This led to the advocacy of "integration of the executive and legislature," to a return to constitutional norms.

But following the DPP's catastrophic loss in the legislative elections, Frank Hsieh's campaign theme suddenly changed. It suddenly became "Because the KMT controls the legislature, therefore the DPP must control the presidency." It suddenly became "defending Taiwan and saving democracy via joint governance." Not only does Hsieh's new theme flatly contradict his "total government" proposal, it openly proclaims "So what if I wasn't able to create a majority? I still ought to be president!"

Overnight, Frank Hsieh went from "If elected president, I will manage a majority" to "So what if I wasn't able to manage a majority? I still ought to be president!" Will Hsieh's proposals, utterly contrary to constitutional norms, win the approval of moderate voters during the 50 days leading up to the presidential election? Not a chance.

Frank Hsieh is clearly caught in a contradiction. He assured the public that if elected, he would be a "passive president," that he would "relinquish executive power," that he would "allow the KMT to form a cabinet." But Hsieh is merely a presidential candidate. Yet here he is, boasting about how he allow the CEO of a major corporation to form a cabinet. What happened to his promise to "allow the KMT to form a cabinet?" If that was not enough, he promised a general amnesty on all National Health Insurance debts, and to reduce the inheritance tax to less than 10%. Is this how a "passive president" behaves?

Frank Hsieh's recent policy proposals prove that he would never be a "passive president." They merely confirm that "divided government," in which the executive and controlling majority in the legislature belong to different parties, is a horrible state of affairs. Suppose Frank Hsieh is elected president, but the cabinet is formed by the KMT. Suppose the president wants to declare a general amnesty on all National Health Insurance debts today, reduce the inheritance tax tomorrow, and implement the "Resolution for a Normal Nation" the day after. Suppose further that he wants to promote the "prompt rectification of names and the authoring of a new constitution." Can you imagine the consequences under divided government?

Hsieh is caught on the horns of a dilemma. On the one hand, he must promise to be a "passive president." Otherwise voters will be afraid he will make trouble. On the other hand, Hsieh must boast of his ability to "grow the economy." But if the cabinet is presided over by the KMT, how is Hsieh going to be the one who "grows the economy?" Are the president and the cabinet each going to implement their own strategies for growing the economy?

Hsieh proposes "defending Taiwan and saving democracy by means of joint governance." But the public holds the Democratic Progressive Party responsible for destroying Taiwan's values. That's why the public used its ballots to defend Taiwan from the DPP. That's why the public used its ballots to save democracy from the DPP. As for his "joint governance" proposal, that's precisely the nightmare of "divided government" the public has endured for the past eight years. Does Frank Hsieh really believe the voters won't realize how horrible divided government is during the next 50 days?

Besides, campaign planks such as "defending Taiwan and saving democracy via joint governance" have already exposed the self-destructive appeal at the core of Frank Hsieh's presidential campaign. By highlighting such appeals, the Hsieh camp is announcing that it intends to offer up the same same discredited old "I am Taiwanese. Those who oppose me are not Taiwanese. I am democratic. Those who oppose me are not democratic" pitch. Hsieh and Su have been mouthing arguments that "The KMT will sell out Taiwan because Ma Ying-jeou advocates eventual reunification." These arguments proved to be ineffective during the legislative elections. Is this Frank Hsieh's notion of "not encouraging populist mob sentiment," of "not inciting ethnic strife [i.e., social conflict]?" Is this Frank Hsieh's notion of "drawing a line between himself and Chen Shui-bian?"

Hsieh's original plan, if elected, was to "manage a [DPP] majority" in the legislature. No wonder voters are suspicious. If Hsieh already knows he cannot "make a majority," why is he claiming he will simultaneously be a "passive president" and "a president who acts as a check on the legislature?" Why is he asking voters to use their ballots to create yet another divided government? Why is he asking voters to use their ballots to commit political suicide?

Frank Hsieh faces a tough election. If he adopts "divided government" as his campaign theme, he is going to have a difficult time winning over voters. His campaign will inevitably be reduced to fanning mob sentiment and inciting social conflict. The Hsieh/Su campaign will find itself caught in a self-destructive downward spiral. Not only will Hsieh lose the election, he will lose any chance of becoming the Democratic Progressive Party's standard-bearer following the election. That's because fanning mob sentiment and inciting social conflict is Chen Shui-bian's strong suit.

If Frank Hsieh loses the election having run a righteous campaign, the consequences for him will be more salutary than if he loses the election having run a dirty campaign. If he loses the election having run a righteous campaign, he can reinvent himself as a "New Frank Hsieh." But if he loses the election having run a dirty campaign, he will merely wind up as a Chen Shui-bian clone.

2008.01.24 04:03 am













Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The DPP should critique its Policies, not the System

The DPP should critique its Policies, not the System
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 23, 2008

After the KMT won nearly three-fourths of all the seats during the Legislative Yuan elections, political blame began to fall on the electoral system. Allegations that a single party in control of the Presidency, the Executive Yuan, and the Legislative Yuan, might lead to a dangerous concentration of power began to surface. Worrying about the concentration of power is a good thing. But experience has shown that the ROC lacks a mature understanding of the rule of law. How can one conclude from the outcome of a single election that the system ought to be changed? Such an attitude fails to understand that an electoral system is not an instrument to ensure a certain election outcome. It is a mechanism that provides checks on power. The results of the ROC Legislative Yuan elections demonstrate that the system is functioning quite well.

Two years ago, the ruling and opposition parties, under intense pressure from Deep Green elders Lin I-hsiung and Nobel Laureate Lee Yuan-tseh, adopted the single member district, two ballot electoral system for the ROC Legislative Elections. One of greatest benefits from a single member district electoral system is that it helps moderates gain entry to the legislature. The fact is, the Democratic Progressive Party adopted precisely the wrong strategy in the Legislative Yuan elections. During its party primaries it adopted a "Blues Excluded" provision, keeping moderates and centrists within the party out of the running. During the election campaign its underlying tone was not "reconciliation and coexistence," but the shrill "us vs. them" rhetoric of Taiwan independence fundamentalism. That this led to the total alienation of moderate voters is not at all surprising. The result was entirely consistent with the new, smaller voting districts. People were surprised with the results merely because they lacked experience with the "winner takes all" system. Once they familiarize themselves with its operating principles, they will find that the system encourages moderate social policies. They will find that it leads to increasing social consensus. This will have a positive effect on the behavior of political candidates.

The same principle applies in the presidential election. If the voters don't want a single party to control both the presidency and the legislature, that is their choice. It is not a crime to win a landslide majority. Voters may prefer a moderate political party in control of the legislature. Any candidate who understands the voters' preferences, and who adopts a moderate, centrist political path, has a chance of winning. Candidates who adopt extreme policies will alienate or anger a majority of voters. If voters want a political party with moderate policies to win both a majority in the legislature and also the presidency, that is their prerogative. It is hardly a result that needs to be prohibited by a constitutional republic.

Put plainly, the Constitution does not prohibit any one party receiving a majority in the legislature. Nor does it prohibit the same party from winning both the presidency and a majority in the legislature. This is true not only of the Republic of China. This is true all over the world. No constitution in the world prohibits the same political party from controlling both the legislative and executive branches.

If we are going to demand that the electoral system be changed merely because the results of the legislative elections surprised some of us, are we going prohibit voters from casting "too many" votes for any particular political party? Are any "extra votes" to be nullified? Are we going to prohibit political parties from offering election platforms that a majority of voters find appealing? Are we going to find ways to ensure that political parties are positioned at opposite ends of the political spectrum, staring each other down?

To say that the system must be changed merely because the presidency and legislature are controlled by the same political party, is the same as saying that the constitution must not allow a single political party to control both the legislature and the executive. That is the same as saying that if a party wins a landslide victory in the legislature, then it must not be permitted to field a candidate for the presidency. We need to understand that for a single political party to receive an overwhelming majority in both legislative and presidential elections is perfectly normal. A political party that champions extreme positions cannot survive. Other political parties will fill the vacuum by advocating policies more acceptable to the voters.

A more fundamental reason is that under a constitutional republic checks and balances do not depend upon political parties, but upon the separation of powers among the different branches of government. Political parties must not behave like criminal gangs. A political party that achieves power must not refuse to check and balance another branch of government merely because it is controlled by its own party. For example, the Executive Yuan must not refuse to check and balance the president merely because he or she belongs to the same party. The Legislative Yuan must not refuse to check and balance the Executive Yuan merely because it is controlled by the same party. Conversely, the different branches of government must transcend partisan loyalties. They must refrain from engaging in purely partisan political battles. This will enable the nomination of political appointees to cease being a partisan power struggle. If a ruling party that controls both the legislature and executive ignores constitutional checks and balances, it cannot escape public condemnation. It cannot escape opposition party condemnation. It cannot escape judicial review for unconstitutional conduct. In the next election will be rejected by the electorate. It will be forced to surrender its legislative majority and even its executive authority.

The people have relegated a extremist political party to the scrap heap of history. This is hardly a defect in the constitution. It is not the public that should be engaging in soul-searching. It is not the winning political party that should be apologizing. It is the losing political party that should be deciding what kind of attitude it should adopt and what kind of policies it should advocate. The voters will be the arbiters during the next election. This is the norm under a constitutional republic. This is hardly a reason to change the system.

中國時報  2008.01.23









Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Uphold Neutrality and the Rule of Law

Uphold Neutrality and the Rule of Law
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 22, 2008

Chang Cheng-hsiung and his ilk must vacate the political arena. They must vanish without a trace. The Central Election Commission (CEC) was meant to be a professional and neutral institution. But Chang Cheng-hsiung and others like him have turned it into the Democratic Progressive Party's political tool. Chang Cheng-hsiung and his ilk are a disgrace to democracy, a detriment to constitutional rule.

The results of the legislative elections is likely to be a second regime change. To the nation's civil servants, this is an unforgettable experience. No party rules in perpetuity. But civil servants serve for a lifetime. Ruling parties come and go. It is civil servants who are the gatekeepers of constitutional values and the maintainers of government standards. If a ruling party tramples over the constitution, violates the law, misrules the nation, and undermines society's morals, civil servants must be able to maintain order until regime change brings another party into power.

Chang Cheng-hsiung is not an ordinary civil servant. The CEC chairmanship is a constitutionally-mandate, specially-appointed, politically-neutral role. The Democratic Progressive Party applied Superglue to the locks on the doors to the Legislative Yuan. They prevented Chang Cheng-hsiung's firing. Chang Cheng-hsiung then used the CEC as a tool in the DPP's political struggles. He manipulated elections and violated neutrality. But even Chang Cheng-hsiung was unable to revive the Democratic Progressive Party. Not this time. Instead, his attempt to deliberately sow confusion by package-dealing the plebiscite with the election infuriated the electorate, who used their ballots to punish the DPP. In the end, Chang Cheng-hsiung destroyed himself. He destroyed the CEC. He destroyed the spirit of the constitution. He even destroyed the DPP.

The CEC is neutral in theory. It ought to be neutral in fact. The ruling Democratic Progressive Party's has committed many sins during its eight years of misrule. But its most unforgiveable sin is that it has virtually destroyed all remnants of neutrality required under constitutionalism and the rule of law.

Can you imagine Nita Ying as the Minister of Audit, nominating members of the Bureau of Audit? Have you seen the list of rejected Control Yuan nominees? Is any political trust possible under such circumstances? Can you believe that Grand Justice Cheng Chung-mo strongarmed legislators on behalf of the ruling regime's constitutional interpretation case? Have you seen the way the grand justices twisted the meaning of the constitution on behalf of the ruling regime during its constitutional interpretation cases? How could our Attorney General let us down so badly? How could our Special Investigative Unit be so flagrantly partisan? How could our state-owned enterprises become political spoils? How could our banks become underwriters of our ruling regime?

Grand justices, CEC officials, state-owned enterprises, and special investigative unit officials all require neutrality and professionalism to a greater or lesser degree. The black hand of political manipulators and partisan interests must be excluded. But every one of these these realms has been coopted. The nominally public Council of Grand Justices has become a private service provider for partisan interests. The nominally public CEC has become a private service provider for the ruling DPP. Neutrality has disappeared and constitutional rule is nowhere to be found.

Neutrality and professionalism are indispensable to constitutionalism and the rule of law. One must fight for them tooth and nail. Compromise is not an option. If the CEC is not neutral, then constitutional rule has been seriously undermined. When the CEC produced Chang Cheng-hsiung, the CEC became a DPP pawn, instead of a fair and impartial entity. The DPP's special aptitude is its ability to plant counterparts of Chang Cheng-hsiung everywhere, from the Council of Grand Justices to the China Steel Corporation. No need to enumerate. The public can count.

Lin Wen-hu, the Vice-chairman of the National Parents Union, concluded that Minister of Education Tu Cheng-shen's "political machinations were not good. He (Tu) is working for the DPP, not for education." This remark rang true with many parents. In fact, it hit the nail on the head. Parents are concerned that professionalism and the spirit of education have been lost. By the same token, many peoples' concern is that Chang Cheng-hsiung is working for the DPP, not for fair elections.

A second "regime change" is imminent. Major reconstruction is required to restore constitutionalism and the rule of law, along with neutrality and professionalism. Grand justices like Cheng Chung-mo, CEC Commissioners like Chang Cheng-hsiung, and Ministers of Education like Tu Cheng-shen are out of the question. Such individuals must not be nominated. Individuals nominated must display neutrality and professionalism, and not willingly debase themselves.

Parents' representatives lament that Tu Cheng-sheng is "working for the Democratic Progressive Party, not for education." Every civil servant today needs to hear this lament. If indeed a "second regime change" is imminent, every civil servant needs to hear it again: "The Civil Service does not belong to the KMT. It belongs to the people. It serves the people."

2008.01.22 03:16 am











Monday, January 21, 2008

The DPP must transform itself from a Gang into a Party

The DPP must transform itself from a Gang into a Party
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 21, 2007

"Don't think of the DPP as a political party." When referring to the manner in which the DPP went about reflecting on the reasons for its election debacle, one Green Camp scholar noted with irony that the DPP is nothing more than an ad hoc alliance of political factions. For the DPP, elections are merely procedures by which to divvy up the loot.

In the eyes of pro-green academics the "ruling party" that has been leading the ROC for the past eight years is more "gang" than "political party." That's an astonishing notion. But based on the DPP's conduct, it is not far from the truth. Over the past several days voices within the party have been demanding self-introspection. Criticisms however have been directed exclusively at Chuang Kuo-jung, Hsieh Chi-wei, and other minor players. They have not touched on the party's political platform and principles of governance. Following a power struggle, Chen is out and Hsieh is in. The party machinery has already changed hands. It is combat ready and has already undergone redeployment. That the DPP is dealing with its defeat in such a cavalier manner leaves observers in stunned disappointment.

From being in the opposition to being the ruling party, the DPP's unchanging characteristic has been its pugnacity and its ability to reinvent itself. These make the DPP more like the "war council" of an organized crime family than a modern political party.

Because of its natural pugnacity, the DPP has always been able to develop innovative tactics and novel rhetoric in the service of its political struggles. But also due to this natural pugnacity, the DPP invariably lashes out full force. It is unable to settle down and put the welfare of the nation first. It lives only to fight. It has forgotten that the people only want to live in peace. It has forgotten that society needs a stable environment can to develop. As an old Chinese saying goes: "For those in authority making trouble is not an option." But over the past eight years the DPP has never been able to understand this principle. It has relentlessly been making trouble, until the public could not longer put up with its irresponsibility and decided to ruthlessly cast it aside.

After the DPP came to power, it had the opportunity to make the transition from an alliance of factions to a more stable, more effective modern political party. Unfortunately, faced with the seduction of power and a wealth of resources, the DPP immediately yielded to temptation. In order to rapidly expand its domain, the DPP eagerly absorbed local political machines and other political remnants. It attempted to undermine the Blue Camp by inducing members to defect. The result of its expansionist ambition was that economic advantage promptly supplanted the party's former political idealism. In the blink of an eye, a political alliance degenerated into a criminal gang. By contrast, many reformist-oriented elders were either ostracized or left in disgust. The lack of inclusiveness, the loss of idealism, and the emergence of a single voice suppressing dissent, all testified to the DPP's failure to transform itself into a modern political party.

Factions within the DPP proliferate. They attack each other. They jostle for advantage. They also engage in quid pro quo exchanges. This is one reason the DPP has not been able to transform itself into a modern political party. Yu Shyi-kun during his term as premier attempted to promote the eradication of factions. But the reality is that many small factions have encircled the more cohesive and organized New Tide faction. In the final analysis, this was merely an internal power struggle initiated by the DPP party hierarchy. As of now, factional power struggles within the DPP are no longer about political convictions, they are about realpolitik. Just take a look at the dominant Chen Shui-bian faction, at the Hsieh faction, sharpening its swords, at the Su faction, ready to rumble. What about Yu Shyi-kun? During his term as premier he built up the power of the Yu faction. The DPP's true colors as a criminal enterprise are becoming every more apparent.

When Frank Hsieh and Su Tseng-chang fought each other over the presidential nomination during the party primaries, Lee Ying-yuan angrily resigned as Chairman of the Council of Labor Affairs in order to help Frank Hsieh's campaign. Would such a thing happen in a normal political party in the modern era? A political appointee identifies more strongly with his political faction than with his role within the government? What is this, if not the nature of a criminal gang? Frank Hsieh's campaign committee shut out members of other factions. The party's nominees for the legislature had strong ties to local party machines. Frank Hsieh even refused to appear on the same podium with Chen Shui-bian. Chiou I-jen and Chang Chun-hsiung both resigned their positions as Hsieh camp campaign workers. Factionalism within the DPP is so rampant it can no longer be covered up. Such strange bedfellows, each with their own hidden agendas. How can one expect such a political party to assume collective responsibility for the failures of the past eight years?

"Don't think of the Democratic Progressive Party as a political party." This assessment reveals the secret behind the swift rise and and even swifter fall of the DPP. It also reveals the vulnerability of the ROC's constitutional structure. Looking back we realize that every one of the Democratic Progressive Party's self-styled virtues, from "honesty, diligence, love of the land" to "Champion of Taiwan independence and statehood" was a Big Lie, was political treachery. How this is a modern political party? Isn't this more akin to a street gang?

For years, DPP leaders were seen as fearsome electioneering experts. But after eight years in power, these electioneering experts have sunk to this level. Can they blame an electoral system they now denounce as unfair, but which they themselves rammed through the legislature? The DPP had better engage in some serious soul-searching about how it destroyed the nation's constitutional structures, abused its power, and lost the public trust. Otherwise it will remain nothing more than a gang of political thugs only capable of stirring up trouble and only concerned with getting their share of the loot.

2008.01.21 03:01 am


領 導台灣八年的「執政黨」,在親綠學者眼裡,竟是「幫派」成分多過「政黨」,豈不令人駭然?但對照民進黨的表現,此話又顯然不假:連日來黨內發出的檢討聲 音,皆集中在莊國榮、謝志偉之類的小角色身上,完全未觸及黨的從政路線和治國方針;一番權鬥後,「扁下謝上」黨機器易手,馬上又進入新的戰鬥部署。民進黨 因應敗局如此舉重若輕,令人錯愕亦復失望。


由 於它強烈的戰鬥天性,所以能源源不斷研發新穎的戰術及議題,進行政治鬥爭;但也因為這種好鬥善鬥的本能,它將全副精力用來部署攻擊,而無法安靜下來思考治 國。它沉湎於硝煙征戰,卻忘了老百姓需要休養生息,忘了社會需要安定的環境才能扎根、發展。所謂「當家不鬧事」,但民進黨八年來始終無法體悟到其中道理, 它終於鬧到讓人民忍無可忍,狠狠地將它唾棄。

民進黨執政後,本來有機會從「派系聯盟」轉型為更穩定、更有效能的現代政黨;可惜,面對誘人 的權力和豐盛的資源,民進黨立即向現實主義屈服。為了迅速擴張版圖,民進黨大肆吸收地方上渴望分享權力的派系散兵游勇,同時為了挖藍軍牆腳,而廣為招降納 叛。如此貪圖擴張的結果,使得黨內原來政治屬性較強的「派系聯盟」,在轉眼間就惡化為利益取向的「幫派聯盟」;相對的,不少具有改革理想的黨外「前輩」遭 到排擠或選擇出走。包容性的缺乏、理想性的喪失、一言堂的出現,在在驗證了民進黨向現代化政黨轉型的失敗。

民進黨內派系林立,彼此攻伐、 彼此掣肘,或彼此利益交換,也是妨礙它蛻變為現代政黨的主要原因之一。雖然游錫?在主席任內推動消滅派系,但其真相其實是眾小派系聯合圍剿組織力較凝聚的 新潮流系,歸根究柢,這只是一場黨中央發動的內部權鬥。此時,民進黨內派系生態已走向以「現實勢力」而非「政治理念」為結合的架構,只消看龐大的扁系、磨 刀霍霍的謝系、蠢蠢欲動的蘇系,乃至游錫?在擔任主席期間收編壯大的游系,民進黨的幫派色彩只是有增無減。

試想:在謝蘇初選相爭期間,李 應元憤而辭去勞委會主委,回去為謝長廷抬轎;若在一個正常的現代政黨,這種事如何可能發生?一個政務官的派系認同,遠大過自己執政角色的認知,這不是幫派 政治的表徵嗎?再看,謝營的助選團隊排拒「外系」人馬進駐,黨內立委提名充滿地方利益色彩,乃至謝長廷拒絕與扁同台,以及張俊雄和邱義仁雙辭謝營輔選工 作,不都說明民進黨幫派現象已到無法遮掩的地步嗎?這種同床異夢、各懷鬼胎的政黨,又如何奢望它為執政八年的失敗負起共同責任?


許 多年來,民進黨一直被視為可怕的「選戰高手」,但八年大權在握後,這個慓悍的「戰鬥團體」竟淪落到今日的慘況,它能怪自己一手強力推動的新選制對它太不公 允嗎?民進黨如果不深刻反省自己如何摧毀了民主真諦、如何濫用了權力、如何失去了人心,它恐怕永遠只是一個興風作浪、坐地分贓的政治幫派而已。

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Did the DPP really lose the Election because the System is Unfair?

Did the DPP really lose the Election because the System is Unfair?
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 17, 2008

The results of the legislative elections are considered a vote of non-confidence in Chen Shui-bian. But when Chen Shui-bian discussed the election during a diplomatic visit yesterday, he stubbornly maintained that his political path was correct. A centrist path was out of the question. This kind of mentality makes it clear that not only are Frank Hsieh's election prospects at risk, so is the political future of the DPP.

DPP officials are currently reviewing the election process. The overwhelming majority of them are blaming the electoral system for alleged unfairness. In fact, this is a deliberate attempt to mislead the public. Because the KMT won, it received an extraordinary number of seats. But no matter whether we are talking about At Large Party Ballots, or District Representative Ballots, the KMT received over half the votes. The District Representative vote was 53.5% vs. the DPP's 38.7%. The At Large Party vote was 51.23% vs. the DPP's 36.91%. The gap between the two votes was as high as 15%. In any democratic nation, this would be considered a clear indication of public sentiment.

Such an election result looks like radical change. But in a democratic nation it is the norm. Just last year alone, the ruling party in the United States, Japan, Poland, and Venezuela faced electoral defeat due to ideological dogmatism. The governments of Japan and Poland were forced to modify their political paths. Even Venezuelan eccentric Hugo Chavez had to make concessions to the public.

Yesterday Chen Shui-bian said "Everyone is to blame, but I am assuming responsibility." Having done so, he passed the buck for the election debacle to others. He told AIT Chairman Raymond Burghardt that under the old electoral system the DPP would have gotten 44 seats instead of 27 seats. Perhaps Chen Shui-bian is unwilling to admit that the loss of 17 seats was largely due to his own strategic miscalculations.

This is the first time the ROC has ever used the Single Member District Electoral System. Its most distinctive feature is that it is extremely sensitive to shifts in public sentiment. Particularly in political regions as small as Japan or Taiwan, due to local issues that may not be obvious. The election results often become votes of confidence in the leaders of the ruling party. During the 2008 ROC Legislative Yuan elections, all other topics were eclipsed. Chen Shui-bian single-handedly orchestrated the "Join the UN" and reunification vs. independence plebiscite campaigns. The election result amounted to a vote of no-confidence in Chen Shui-bian. An average of five percentage points in each electoral district was enough to cause many candidates to go from winners to losers.

To win under such an electoral system, one must win a plurality in each electoral district. In other words, one must appeal to swing voters. This of course runs completely counter to an election strategy in which one appeals only to one's core supporters. Yet even after the election Chen Shui-bian continued talking about how the DPP's core support was still intact, and stubbornly asserted that his election strategy was perfectly sound. But if his strategy was so sound, why couldn't he get a majority of the public to support it?

Constitutional amendments two years ago meant that the ROC's electoral system would change. Changes in the electoral system invariably lead to changes in the party system. In order to comply with the requirements for the Single Member District Electoral System, the Democratic Progressive Party modified its Deep Green party line. But why did the DPP, which has always been sensitive to the larger political environment, allow buffoons such as Hsieh Chi-wei, Tu Cheng-sheng, and even Chuang Kuo-jung, to engage in outrageous political stunts that alienated voters? They knew perfectly well that the Single Member District Electoral System posed a serious challenge to their election prospects. Yet they concocted a "Blues Excluded Clause" and incorporated it into the party primary process, deliberately shutting out potential candidates with more moderate images. How does one go about explaining the DPP's insanely self-destructive behaviour?

Do the Democratic Progressive Party's keepers of the flame really not see that the relationship between Chen Shui-bian and the DPP is now an adversarial, zero sum relationship? Chen Shui-bian knows that adopting a radical independence posture won't win any votes. But he must stick to it to the bitter end. Only then can he remain secure in his position as the Godfather of Taiwan independence. Only then can he shield himself from impending prosecution. If Chen Shui-bian is correct, if insistence on the "Primacy of Taiwan" is not merely a Deep Green position, but the majority view on Taiwan, then why have so-called "Chinese Fellow Travelers" who support the Blue Camp emerged triumphant in the legislative elections? Obviously Chen Shui-bian's arguments on behalf of any particular political path are merely political tools.

Chen Shui-bian has adopted his self-contradictory positions merely to ensure his personal survival. If the DPP continues down the Chen Shui-bian path however, it will not be ensuring its survival. It will be marching into the political wilderness. The ruling Democratic Progressive Party achieved power by uniting Deep Green and centrist voters. But Chen Shui-bian's corruption led to the loss of centrist support. Chen Shui-bian then reached out to fundamentalist elements, using them to hold off the center. This left the DPP, which might have been able to reconcile centrist with Deep Green voters, in an insoluble dilemma.

The DPP's predicament was obvious during the recent election. When it lost to the KMT even in Kaohsiung City and Kaohsiung County, when even solidly DPP districts began to slip from the DPP's grasp, its core support was lost. It is hardly surprising that many DPP supporters are concerned. This is no longer merely a question of whether their candidate can win the presidency. The Democratic Progressive Party must prepare itself mentally to being in the political opposition for years to come.

During the past eight years, under Chen Shui-bian's leadership, the Democratic Progressive Party has virtually nullified the rule of law. It has demonstrated contempt for the legislature, destroyed the credibility of the judiciary, and undermined the independence of independent agencies. The only democratic mechanism intact under DPP misrule is the electoral system. Chen Shui-bian has deliberately misinterpreted the meaning of the outcome of the legislative elections. The DPP had better wake up. When even the democratic procedures by which the people send messages to the ruling administration are being flouted, the public will certainly demand even stronger punishments.













Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Frank Hsieh: "Am I a Chen Shui-bian Clone?"

Frank Hsieh: "Am I a Chen Shui-bian Clone?"
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 16, 2008

Is Chen Shui-bian up to his old tricks again? During his state visit he said that his "Five Noes" were merely his personal commitment, that they were not binding upon the new president.

Chen Shui-bian's implication was clear. If Frank Hsieh wants to hitch a ride on the Five Noes bandwagon, he must make his own preference known. He cannot evade the issue. Chen Shui-bian added that the legislative elections were largely concerned with domestic affairs. The presidential election is about cross-strait policy and national identity. In other words, he thinks Hsieh has to come clean.

Chen Shiu-bian will probably withdraw from the front lines of the presidential campaign. He will adopt the position that "national policy must be decided by the President." He will issue an endless stream of opinions on cross-straits policy and "national identity" issues. He will offer his own presidential campaign platform, forcing Frank Hsieh to lay his cards on the table.

Frank Hsieh is surrounded by enemies front and rear. To win over centrist voters, he must reaffirm the Five Noes, even if he calls them by some other name. He must champion cross-straits reconciliation and cross-straits exchanges. To mollify Deep Green Taiwan independence hardliners meanwhile, he must consider the feelings of Chen Shui-bian. Chen Shui-bian has been gravely wounded. But he still has the ability to spin Frank Hsieh's campaign platform as "treasonous" to Deep Green Taiwan independence hardliners. Chen Shui-bian no longer has the power to do whatever he wants. But he still has the power to prevent Hsieh from doing what Hsieh wants.

Chen Shui-bian is one of the people who least wants Frank Hsieh to be elected. Chen Shui-bian was humiliated by his defeat in the legislative elections. If Frank Hsieh emerges victorious in the presidential election, how will that make Chen Shui-bian feel? If Hsieh's constitutional amendment path emerges victorious, It will demonstrate that Chen Shui-bian's path was a mistake. How is Chen Shui-bian going to deal with that?

Chen Shui-bian finds himself in the situation of a cornered animal. The Legislative Yuan elections have handed him the Deep Green Taiwan independence vote. The election defeat has forced him to resign as party chairman. But it has also given him a convenient pretext to withdraw from the front lines of the presidential election campaign. He can now devote his time to acquiring a golden parachute upon retirement from political life. Chen Shui-bian's strategy is obvious. Wait for the Democratic Progressive Party's presidential bid to fail. Make a come-back on the ruins of the Democratic Progressive Party.

Frank Hsieh's dilemma is that if he fails to draw a bright line between himself and Chen Shui-bian, centrist voters will ensure that he is unelectable. On the other hand, if he draws too bright a line between himself and Chen, Chen Shui-bian will ensure that he is unelectable. On the night of the legislative election, Frank Hsieh wanted Chen Shui-bian to retain chairmanship of the party, wanted Chen to take a "leave of absence" but not resign. Hsieh knew enough to "keep his friends close, but his enemies closer."

If Frank Hsieh fails to draw a bright line of distinction between himself and Chen Shui-bian, he will not be able to create a pendulum effect. If Frank Hsieh draws too bright a line of distinction between himself and Chen Shui-bian, he is likely to lose even his core support. For the DPP at least, the ROC Presidential Election has turned into a DPP Civil War. It is unlikely Frank Hsieh can win the election. Chen Shui-bian does not want to Hsieh to win. Therefore as we have been reminding everyone, the DPP might as well treat the ROC Presidential Election as a Struggle over the Party's Future. The DPP's presidential prospects are slim. But through the presidential election it may find a new political direction, it may find a new political leader. Even if the election is a debacle, it may find a way to rise from the ashes.

Chen Shui-bian hopes to keep the DPP hostage even after the presidential election. But reformist elements within the party are unlikely to tolerate Chen's return. The word is Chen Shui-bian will turn the ROC Presidential Election into a DPP Civil War during the next 60 days. Hsieh may not be able to win the ROC Presidential Election. But he cannot afford to lose the DPP Civil War.

Hsieh said that if he loses the election he will retire from the political arena. But that was nothing more than an election promise. The political rivalry between Frank Hsieh and Chen Shui-bian has degenerated to where Chen Shui-bian is deliberately undermining Frank Hsieh's campaign. If Frank Hsieh loses due to no fault of his own, this ought not end Hsieh's political life. He cannot sit idly by as the DPP falls into Chen Shui-bian's hands. If Chen Shui-bian destroys the Democratic Progressive Party the way Lee Teng-hui destroyed the KMT, doesn't Frank Hsieh want to be there to rebuild the DPP, the way Lien Chan rebuilt the KMT?

The Chen Shui-bian Path has been utterly discredited. Now as Frank Hsieh stands alone at night in the silence of his lavish campaign headquarters in Kaohsiung, he has to be asking himself a number of questions. Why did I sign on to the "Join the UN Plebiscite" knowing it was a transparent fraud? Why did I turn my election headquarters in Kaohsiung into a "spiritual bastion" for the "Join the UN Plebiscite?" Why did I allow this "Luxury Headquarters for the Join the UN Plebiscite" to become a Disneyland attraction, a political joke?

Frank Hsieh should ask himself "Am I a Chen Shui-bian clone?" He must answer himself honestly. Only then will Frank Hsieh know how to deal with the Chen/Hsieh rivalry. Only then will he know how to fight his intraparty civil war. Only then will he know how to wage his presidential campaign. Only then will he know how to face the Democratic Progressive Party. Only then will he know how to face the nation. Only then will he know how to face history. Only then will he know how to face himself.

2008.01.16 03:50 am




謝 長廷已陷腹背受敵之境。面對中間選民,他必須返回「四不」(即使不用「四不」一詞),主張兩岸和解,開放兩岸交流;但面對深綠極獨,他卻不能不顧慮陳水扁 的感受。現在的陳水扁雖已重傷,但他仍有能力將謝長廷的「競選策略」定位為深綠極獨的「叛徒」;也就是說,陳水扁仍然穩穩盤踞在「敗事有餘」的堡壘中。


現 在的陳水扁,真正處於困獸猶鬥之境;經此次立委選舉,他已將深綠極獨掌握在手;而選舉既敗,他被迫辭去黨主席,也就名正言順地退出了總統大選的「輔選第一 線」,如今正可用全副心力,為自己布置總統大選後及卸任後的政治生命情境。陳水扁的最佳策略不問可知:等待民進黨總統大選失敗,他再設法從民進黨的政治廢 墟中捲土重來。


若 不與扁大力切割,不可能營造「鐘擺效應」;但若與扁大力切割,謝長廷恐連「基本盤」都顧不住。事到如今,這場「總統大選」真正變成了一場「民進黨的內 戰」;謝長廷很難贏得大選,陳水扁又不希望謝贏。於是,正如我們一直提醒的:民進黨不妨就乾脆將這場「總統大選」,當作一場「黨內的路線內戰」來打;總統 大選的勝率渺茫,但至少應透過總統大選,重建黨的路線及黨的旗手。即使大選失敗,民進黨卻可再造重生。


謝 長廷說敗選即退出政壇,畢竟只是競選語言。謝長廷一生與陳水扁的瑜亮爭鋒,竟至總統大選也被陳水扁拆台的地步;若是非戰之罪,則這不應是謝長廷政治生命的 句點,更不能坐視民進黨在選後又落入陳水扁的魔掌。也就是說,陳水扁之毀民進黨若是像李登輝之毀國民黨;則謝長廷亦當有再使民進黨中興,學做連戰使國民黨 再生的豪情壯志。



Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The KMT should worry about its Supermajority

The KMT should worry about its Supermajority
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 15, 2008

When KMT leaders lined up in a row to announce their victory, they all looked solemn. Not one of them showed any sign they were experiencing the "thrill of victory." The Chairman of the KMT Culture and Communications Committee stressed that those outside party headquarters lighting firecrackers and opening champagne had nothing to do with them. Their "once bitten, twice shy" demeanor did not appear to be affected. After all, it was a close victory against a well matched foe. Perhaps they felt some joy in having waged a successful campaign. If they had been gloating about scoring a crushing victory, that would be worrisome. Their caution is not entirely due to fear of a "pendulum effect" in which sympathy swings back toward the loser. It is also due to their realization that ROC voters are in deadly earnest, and that many of them have bet their futures on the KMT.

Ever since the ROC instituted universal suffrage in 1992 and passed a second round of constitutional amendments, the KMT has never experienced the thrill of victory. In 2000, following regime change, the KMT has constantly faced the pressure of imminent collapse. And even though it is an opposition party, the DPP has slapped all sorts of negative labels on it, including "alien regime," "black gold organization," "traitor to Taiwan," and "holder of illegitimate party assets." These charges follow the KMT around like a shadow. They never leave. Ever since the lifting of martial law, "Bashing the KMT" has become a Politically Correct past time. After seven years in the political wilderness, the KMT is not only used to being criticized, it is also gun shy. When it achieves a landslide victory, it doesn't know how to deal with it. The public has sent the KMT an important message: You say you can do the job? Well I'm handing you the power. Let's see what you can do with it.

One can list a hundred different reasons for the KMT's victory. But "The KMT has done a good job!" is not one of them. One reason for the KMT's victory was that the new electoral system was inherently disadvantageous to the Democratic Progressive Party. Another was that Chen Shui-bian's personal halo had been tarnished. Another was that the DPP had no clue how to govern the nation. Another was the DPP overplayed its hand with its negative campaigning. None of these reasons are important. What matters now is that in the coming four years the KMT will enjoy a supermajority in the legislature. The KMT's supermajority allows it to pretty much do whatever it pleases. If in 60 days it also takes the presidency, its control over the central government will be as solid as the Rock of Gilbraltar. Such an outcome is worrisome.

Therefore Ma Ying-jeou's swift assurance that the KMT would not abuse its supermajority to recall the president, to cast votes of non-confidence in the cabinet, or to ram through constitutional amendments, was reassuring. An absolute majority can be a stabilizing force. It can also be a source of chaos. Over the past seven years, citizens of the ROC have had it with a ruling party that takes the lead in creating chaos. The public wants to recuperate. It does not want a rerun of the partisan political struggles of the past seven years. The KMT is aware of this. But that is not enough.

Besides guarantees that it will not abuse its supermajority to do whatever it wants, the KMT will face several tough tests. The first is the "naked greed" test. One of the most repulsive sights in the world is the naked greed on the face of politicians as they fall over each other fighting over their share of the loot. The new legislature will convene in February. If the first act of the KMT Caucus is to launch a power struggle over the vice premiership, to see who can sponsor the most extravagant pork barrel legislation, not even bothering to disguise their naked greed, then public opinion of the KMT will plummet. Suppose the KMT resists demands for reform. Its arrogant assumption being that it had the support of the electorate, therefore their shortcomings can safely be ignored. The "Recovery of Party Assets" plebiscite failed to pass. That means that for three years it will be impossible to demand a similar plebiscite. Does that mean the KMT is home free on the party assets issue? Just the opposite. If the Democratic Progressive Party demands that the KMT account for its party assets during the next election, then the KMT really will have proven that it is a political party utterly unable to grow or advance. The third temptation confronting the KMT is the temptation to escalate the political struggle, to use its supermajority to indulge in political retaliation, to overturn any controversial legislation rammed through by the DPP, and start from scratch. The KMT could even cease consulting with the DPP. It could simply take a vote whenever it wished. A stable majority would then become a despotic majority, repeating the cycle of ruling vs. opposition party confrontation. If the KMT were to behave this way, its halo would soon lose its lustre.

Lest we forget, the election campaign isn't over. The DPP may have lost the legislative election. But based on its proportion of At Large Party Ballots, its support base remains intact. That coupled with its sense of crisis over its loss of political power, as well as a newfound resolve to defend "nativist rule," it may be able to recall many alienated votes. Besides, given the DPP's responsiveness, any mistakes it committed during the legislative elections will not be repeated during the presidential election. If it campaigns effectively during the presidential election, its last ditch struggle for survival could well lead to a "pendulum effect." If the KMT's humility and caution are genuine, what it most desperately needs is to tame the behemoth -- its own supermajority.


國 民黨領導精英一字排開宣布勝選的瞬間,個個面色嚴肅凝重,絲毫不見勝選的喜悅,擔任司儀的文傳會主委還刻意強調在黨部外開香檳慶功的場面與他們無關,這般 「戒慎恐懼」的畫面看得出來不像是喬裝的。畢竟如果是勢均力敵下的些微險勝,或許還會有些拚戰成功的喜悅,但如果是秋風掃落葉式的壓倒性狂勝,那種感受反 到令人有些莫名的驚懼。這種驚懼並不全是害怕出現「鐘擺效應」,而是具體感受到台灣選民認真了,他們有很大一部分人已經把他們自己的未來,押在國民黨這一 邊了!

自台灣開放全面普選以來,除了一九九二年的二屆修憲國代選舉,國民黨就從未再體會過「大勝」的滋味。二○○○年政黨輪替後,國民黨 即無時無刻不面臨崩解潰散的壓力,而即便已是在野之身,民進黨加諸於國民黨的負面標籤,如外來政權、黑金體制、出賣台灣、不當黨產…等指控依舊如影隨形, 從未退燒過,某種程度說,從戒嚴到政黨輪替後,民間「批判國民黨」都還一直是論述上的政治正確。因而七年的在野經驗,國民黨不僅是被罵慣了,而且是輸怕 了,一旦獲得壓倒性勝利,反而有些不知所措,這彷彿是人民向國民黨傳達一項重要的指令:你既然說你行,我就真把權柄交給你,看你要怎麼做!

沒 錯,有一百個以上的理由,可以解釋國民黨這次的大勝,不是因為國民黨表現的好,如新選制先天上就對民進黨不利,如陳水扁個人光環褪色,如民進黨治國無方, 如負面選舉操作過度等,但此刻爭論這些緣由早已經不重要,重點是未來四年,國民黨已經確定就是國會多數黨,而且是「絕對多數」的政黨,多數到幾乎可以「為 所欲為」,六十多天後如果拿下總統,那簡直是政治上的「超穩定結構」了,這個結局,要說完全不令人擔心,是不可能的。

所以,馬英九很快就 保證絕不利用這個多數操作罷免、倒閣或修憲是對的。「絕對多數」可以是一股穩定的力量,也可以是製造紛亂的來源。過去七年多,台灣人早已經受夠了「當家帶 頭鬧事」的亂象,如今的主流民意,需要的是「休養生息」,絕對不是重新複製過去七年多的「藍綠惡鬥」,這一點國民黨是警覺到了,但是還不夠!

不 諱言說,除了保證不利用多數「為所欲為」外,國民黨的「絕對多數」勢將面臨幾項嚴酷的考驗:首先就是「吃相難看」的試煉。要知道,通常最令人厭惡的贏家, 就是才剛贏就就露出貪婪的嘴臉,爭先恐後的搶食資源。如果二月立院開議後軍容壯盛的國民黨黨團,在全體國人面前所搬演的第一齣戲碼,就是爭奪副院長,就是 競相提出錢坑法案,完全不掩飾贏家通吃的嘴臉,那麼民眾對國民黨的觀感馬上就折損掉一半;其次就是抗拒改革的傲慢。理所當然的認為既然獲得選民力挺,自身 曾受垢病的缺點也都可以不必再理會,譬如說這次「討黨產」的公投沒生效,三年內也不可能再提出類似議題的公投,那是否意味國民黨就可以放著黨產議題不再處 理?情況恐怕剛好相反。試想如果到了下次選舉民進黨還在訴求黨產議題,那國民黨就真的是完全不長進的政黨了。第三就是擴大戰線的誘惑。即藉著席次多數的優 勢展開政治報復,凡是民進黨先前強推的爭議性法案,一概推翻重新來過,甚至根本不再與民進黨協商,動不動就全院表決,讓「穩定多數」變成「鴨霸多數」,重 演朝野的循環對抗,真要這樣,國民黨的勝選光環,很快就折損光了。

不要忘記,選戰還沒打完,民進黨也許輸了立委選舉,但從政黨票的比例看 來,基本盤並未流失,加上失去政權的危機意識,以及捍衛本土政權的悲情意識雙雙驅動下,不少疏離的選票仍能召喚的回來。更何況以民進黨靈活的性格,立委選 戰犯過的錯,總統大選不可能再犯,如果屆時議題操作得當,背水一戰的達成「鐘擺效應」不是沒有可能,國民黨如果真的「誠惶誠恐」,他最需要做的就是先管好 自己這個「絕對多數」的巨獸。

Monday, January 14, 2008

Self-deception and Public Deception

Self-deception and Public Deception: How will the DPP reclaim the Mandate of Heaven?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 14, 2008

The Democratic Progressive Party has lost its status as the largest party in the Republic of China legislature. It is now a small party with only 27 seats. That's hardly the worst of it. The DPP has lost its status as spokesman for "native values," for "democracy," and for "Taiwanese values." That is what dealt the DPP its fatal wound.

The United Daily News noted this in yesterday's editorial. Even during the "dang wai" (party outsider) era, when the political opposition was weak, it had an aura of moral legitimacy and idealism. Today, by contrast, the DPP has not merely become a small party with less than a quarter of the seats in the legislature, it has lost its political idealism and its political legitimacy. For the DPP, that is its real tragedy.

Chen Shui-bian has turned the chairmanship of the party over to Frank Hsieh. But many observers feel that in style and temperament, Chen and Hsieh are Tweedledum and Tweedledee. The two differ only in their packaging. Therefore, whether Frank Hsieh has the ability to lead the DPP down the path toward genuine reform remains a huge question.

The DPP lost the election because it lost the Mandate of Heaven. It lost its idealism and its legitimacy. The DPP's "championing of democracy" was once one of its selling points. But look at how it has undermined the rule of law. Look at how it has become the bane of democracy. So-called "nativism" was once one of the DPP's selling points. But its rampant corruption has made it an detriment to nativism. The DPP's championing of Taiwan independence was once its "jewel in the crown." But its reckless brinksmanship has left Washington and Taipei at loggerheads. The DPP has torn society apart and discredited Taiwan independence as a political movement. The public has repudiated the DPP's boast that it represents the will of the people and the values of the community. Today, Chen is stepping down and Hsieh is stepping up. The Democratic Progressive Party's primary mission should be to reclaim its idealism and political legitimacy. It needs to reclaim its lost mandate.

The DPP's most fundamental character defect is its prediliction for self-deception. The proximate cause of its recent debacle at the polls is Chen Shui-bian's self-deception. The long term cause is Lin I-hsiung. Lin I-hsiung demanded that the legislature be halved in size, and that it adopt a Single Member District, Two Ballot System. It was rumored that one reason Lin wanted this system was that it would prevent "wai sheng ren" (mainlanders) from being elected to the legislature and ensure the future of the "nativist path." Events however have confirmed that such a system won't necessarily exclude "mainlanders." If anything, its adoption has resulted in the wholesale repudiation of the Democratic Progressive Party's so-called "nativist path." And so it is with the DPP's Nuclear Free policy. Opposition to nuclear power may be idealistic. But if one is in the midst of an energy crisis, one can hardly ignore practical concerns. Lin I-hsiung exploited his saintly image within the Green camp to demand a Nuclear Free island. The public was moved. But energy policy after all, is not merely a moral issue. It is also a practical issue.

The DPP has marched itself into a blind alley precisely because it has engaged in self-deception. It is the victim of its own self-induced hypnotic spell. Take Taiwan independence for example. Taiwan independence may involve idealism. but also requires wisdom. Whatever legitimacy Taiwan independence might have accrued in its moral account, has been swiped to the limit by the Democratic Progressive Party. The DPP has ripped apart society and the nation. It has put Washington and Taipei at loggerheads with each other. Yet the DPP still considers itself the voice of Taiwan independence. It still believes it has the right to "champion" Taiwan independence, by any means at its disposal. This is how the Taiwan independence movement is deceiving itself and deceiving others.

Look at the Democratic Progressive Party over the past four years. Look at Chen Shui-bian's rampant corruption. Yet the DPP persists in regarding itself as the standard-bearer for clean government. Look at how the DPP has undermined relations between Washington and Taipei. Look at the people's suffering. Yet the DPP imagines it can shift the focus of public attention by having the CEC package-deal its phony "Join the UN" plebiscite with the presidential election. Society has been ripped apart. Blood flows in the streets. Yet the DPP persists in its rabid anti-Chiang campaign. To top matters off, the DPP sicced its attack dogs on the public: Minister of Education Tu Cheng-sheng, Government Information Office Chief Hsieh Chi-wei, and General Secretary of the Ministry of Education Chuang Kuo-jung. They carried out the DPP's dirty deeds. So this is what "native values" were all about? So this was the DPP's conception of democracy? So this was what the DPP meant by "Taiwanese values?" This election gave the DPP an answer: You can deceive yourselves, but you cannot deceive the people.

If Frank Hsieh and the DPP are searching for Heaven's Mandate, they must cease attempting to deceive the people. Not deceiving the people means not deceiving yourself. Is the DPP willing to forsake its Quixotic "Resolution for a Normal Nation" and return to its more pragmatic "Resolution on Taiwan's Future?" Is the DPP willing to stop demagoguing the phony "Join the UN Plebiscite" and earnestly confront the real challenges of governance? These are Chen Shui-bian's axes to grind. They ought to disappear along with Chen.

It is said that over the past year Chen Shui-bian took the DPP hostage. In fact the DPP was in a self-induced hypnotic trance. It deceived itself. It allowed itself to be taken hostage. Is the Chen Shui-bian Path the Democratic Progressive Party's elixir of life? Is the DPP the flag bearer of political justice and "Taiwanese values?"

Chen Shui-bian has announced his withdrawal from the DPP chairmanship. Frank Hsieh and the DPP must stop attempting to deceive the people. The DPP must not continue down the Chen Shui-bian path under another name. More importantly, Frank Hsieh must not be allowed to become "Chen Shui-bian the Second."

2008.01.14 11:03 am











Friday, January 11, 2008

The Bad Party and the Small Party: The Single Constituency, Two Ballots System

The Bad Party and the Small Party: The Single Constituency, Two Ballots System
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 10, 2008

In 2005, the constitution was amended for the seventh time. The electoral system was changed to a single constituency, two ballots system. The United Daily News expressed mixed feelings about the amendment at the time. On the one hand, we know that the single constituency, two ballots system has defects. It leads to localization, to domination by local party bosses, and to a loss of diversity. On the other hand, we also maintain that a single constituency, two ballots system is necessary. Only such a system can enable Taiwan's politics to transcend extremism and divisiveness.

The two political ailments bedeviling Taiwan are extremism and divisiveness. The main cause is the former multiple constituency, single ballot electoral system. A large electoral district could yield a large number of legislators. As few as 10,000 to 20,000 ballots was enough to elect a single legislator. This provided an mileu in which extremists could operate. Political demands and political styles became radicalized. Smaller parties could survive in such an environment. Decisive minorities led to political divisiveness. The lifting of martial law was followed by 20 years of extremism, divisiveness, and political instability. This led to political deadlock. The single constituency, two ballots system may help replace extremism and divisiveness with moderation and reconciliation.

The single constituency, two ballots system will encourage moderation and discourage parties that adopt an extremist posture. Under the "multiple constituency, single ballot" system, first only a minority behave radically. Examples include the "Three Stooges" in the Democratic Progressive Party. Later, the entire party found itself hijacked by a handful of extremists, the way Chen Shui-bian has hijacked the DPP today. The party deviated from the middle way. The Democratic Progressive Party, under a single constituency, two ballots system, is about to undergo its severest test.

Chen Shui-bian's campaign tactics are totally out of character wtih the single constituency, two ballots system. Chen's "Blues Excluded" opinion polls used during the DPP pary primaries violated the principle of the middle way. Chen's campaign theme of divisive hatred has moved even farther from the spirit of the new system.

If you carefully observe the way the Democratic Progressive Party is campaigning during this year's legislative elections, Chen Shui-bian is the only person adopting his extremist approach. Candidates produced by the "Blues Excluded" opinion polls have clear political colors and extreme political goals. But even they have been low-keyed in both their words and deeds. For example, When Chen Shui-bian launched his anti-Chiang campaign, hardly any DPP legislative candidates chimed in. As we can see, a single constituency electoral system has an immediate moderating effect on political agendas and political styles. Chen Shui-bian's campaign tactics are an anomaly, and cannot be considered the norm.

DPP candidates for the legislature are reserved. Can they repair the damage done to their party by Chen Shui-bian? This will be the key to the DPP's election results. Will the single constituent, two ballots system rein in an extremist political party? The Legislative Yuan elections will give us a clue.

The second effect of a single constituency, two ballots electoral system is that it moderates political divisions. Because it adopts a system of "coexistence," it adversely affects smaller parties. Smaller parties will now find it hard to win electoral district seats. As a result they are attempting to win non-constituency seats. So far however, polls show few voters expressing a willingness to vote for smaller parties.

In the past, a number of smaller parties successfully fulfilled their transitional roles. But their subsequent performance disappointed voters. The People First Party betrayed the Pan Blues with its secret "Bian-Soong Meeting." The TSU held the DPP hostage until last month. Lee Teng-hui even referred to Chen Shui-bian as "crazy." Voters have had it with "critical minorities" blowing hot and cold. They want a political reshuffling. That is why the outlook for smaller parties' is bearish.

Between the Bue and Green camps, the smaller parties will have a relatively greater impact on the KMT than on the DPP. Among the 12 smaller parties, the only one that can affect the DPP is the TSU. But all the smaller parties can affect the KMT. These include the New Party, the Red Party, the Peasants' Party, the Third Party, and the TSU.

Whether voting for smaller parties "wastes" votes has become a hot topic. The threshold for smaller parties to win seats in the Legislative Yuan is very high. They need 5 percent of the vote. That equals 500,000 to 600,000 votes. In other words, if one of the Blue or Green camps' smaller parties receives "Five percent of the vote minus one," that could "waste" 500,000 to 600,000 votes. Not only will the smaller party not get any seats, it could cost the larger party in the same camp seats. Voters will inevitably be wary about "wasting" votes by casting their ballots for smaller parties.

The implementation of a single constituency, two ballots system is an opportunity to shift the political climate from extremist and divisive to moderate and conciliatory. Taiwan's political climate has degenerated. Whether it can be salvaged by adopting a middle course and by a political reshuffling remains uncertain. But if we continue toward extremism and divisiveness, we will be marching towards a dead end. That is why the single constituency, two ballots system may not be a cure for what ails Taiwan politically, but it will at least provide short term relief.

2008.01.10 04:03 am


台 灣政治迄今的兩大絕症是「偏激」與「分裂」,主要導因於過去的複數選區一票制。由於一個大選區可選出多名國會議員,甚至只須一兩萬票即可出線,於是給了走 偏鋒者操弄的空間,政治訴求及風格皆趨「偏激」;而小黨在此制中亦有存活的空間,皆以「關鍵的少數」自詡,政局遂趨「分裂」。經歷解嚴後二十年偏激與分裂 的政治動盪,使政局陷於內耗空轉;而單一選區兩票制的主要效用,即是欲以「中道」與「整合」,來救治「偏激」與「分裂」。

「單一選區兩票 制」的第一個效用,在於鼓勵「中道」,用以淘汰走「偏激」路線的「惡黨」。「偏激」的形成,起初只是因少數人走極端,如「三寶」時代的民進黨;到了後來, 整個黨卻被少數極端分子挾持,如民進黨今日被陳水扁綁架,整個黨遂偏離「中道」。因而,民進黨今年所受單一選區兩票制的考驗,最為嚴峻。


然 而,若仔細觀察今年民進黨立委選舉的手法,幾乎只聞陳水扁一人操作極端議題,卻鮮見區域立委候選人旗幟鮮明地標榜極端路線;即使以排藍民調出線的候選人, 其競選言行,亦較往日收斂甚多。例如,陳水扁「去蔣拆匾」,幾乎未獲民進黨立委候選人的呼應。由此可見,單一選區對政治訴求及風格之「趨近中道」,已有立 竿見影的功效。陳水扁的操作是個異數,不能視為此制的常態。





投 給「小黨」,有否「浪費」的風險,已成熱門話題。小黨想要贏得立委席次的門檻相當高,需有五%的得票率,即約五十餘或六十餘萬票的得票數;換句話說,如果 操作不當,藍綠陣營的任一小黨若獲得「五%減一票」的選票,即可能形同投了近五十或六十萬張「廢票」;非但小黨自己不能獲得任何席次,且可能會相對影響同 色系大黨(國民黨/民進黨)損失不分區席位。得失相較,怕「浪費」選票,選民對投小黨不免有戒心。

單一選區兩票制的實施,是使政局由「偏 激/分裂」,趨向「中道/整合」的契機。台灣政局敗壞到今日這種地步,即使政局重返中道與整合尚不知是否有救;但倘若繼續偏激、分裂下去,則必無生路可 言。準此以論,單一選區兩票制雖非對台灣政局病症標本兼治的處方,但畢竟有其階段性的功效。