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DPP needs vision, not individualism

DPP needs vision, not individualism

Recent discussions on whether the governing Democratic Progressive Party should revise its internal rules for primaries in the nomination of its presidential and legislative candidates has generated a new round of political wrangling.
The issue is relevant as the DPP by-laws mandate the use of the primary process to determine the nominee if efforts at consultation fail.
A proposal raised by some legislators advocates some technical revisions to public opinion surveys used in the second stage of the DPP's primary process to minimize the distorting influence of "deep blue" voters - those staunchly for the former ruling Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) - on the results of such opinion polls and thus the DPP's nominations.
After over 10 revisions in a decade, the DPP's current ground rules mandate a combination of a direct vote by its registered party members, which is given a 30 percent weighting of the final result, and the combined result of several public opinion polls, which accounts for 70 percent of the final result.
The current system aims at reducing the negative impact of so-called "proxy" party members and encourages candidates to boost public visibility and appeal to independent voters, but is also vulnerable to the very real possibility that its adversary could manipulate responses in the surveys to influence the DPP primary in favor of candidates who would be weaker opponents in the general elections.
Danger from the rear
This controversy actually is a reflection of the underlying crossfire among the DPP's four potential "stars," namely Vice President Annette Lu, Premier Su Tseng-chang, DPP Chairman and former Premier Yu Shyi-kun and former premier and ex-Kaohsiung City Mayor Frank Hsieh.
Despite his defeat in December's Taipei City mayoral race to KMT candidate Hau Lung-pin, Hsieh's success in broadening the DPP's vote base in the capital and his contribution to the razor-thin victory of the former Council for Labor Affairs Chairwoman Chen Chu of the DPP in Kaohsiung City have undoubtedly boosted him back into the race for the DPP's presidential nomination.
Hsieh's deliberate moves to distance himself from the embattled President Chen Shui-bian and his calls for "reconciliation and coexistence" have also earned public support, especially in northern Taiwan.
Premier Su's sporadic moves to delink from the president, amid a series of allegation of scandals related to Chen's close aides and members of the first family, have been interpreted as a desire to "walk his own road."
Su's support for the president's petition for a constitutional interpretation on the "state affairs fund" trial indicates that the premier has chosen to stand on the same line as President Chen.
Although the notion of "Su revisionism" was largely a product of media spinning, the premier has displayed a stronger ambition to appeal to the middle ground by stressing government policies to spur economic development, social welfare, public safety and gradual openings in cross-strait policy.
There is little doubt that, in the wake of last December's mayoral polls, both Su and Hsieh must be seen as "front runners," but both also need to take into account the nature of the DPP's primary system, including the 30 percent weighting for party member votes and the 70 percent contribution of public opinion polls if a primary is held.
Given the widespread characterizations of both Lu and Yu has appealing more to "fundamentalists" in the pan-green camp, the suggested revamping of the primary system could benefit both the vice president and the DPP chairman, who is also better positioned to push forward changes in the primary system.
This jockeying, fueled and manipulated by the media, threatens to distract attention from the fundamental question of how the DPP can best position itself to win the upcoming election, who would be its best standard-bearer and, last but not least, what would be the costs of defeat for the DPP and, more importantly, Taiwan's people and their hard-won democracy.
Regretfully, so far what the public have seen thus far are examples of individualist thinking, such as the obsession with the primary system, instead of any presentation by the potential candidates of comprehensive visions of on how to lead our fledgling democracy on a better path.
Despite its decisive efforts to consolidate "Taiwan national identity" and promote numerous political reforms, the DPP's popularity has eroded in the past seven years due to factors such as its inability to build a rational interaction with the pan-blue opposition, adequately rejuvenate a slowing economy, prevent a tendency toward cronyism, take effective actions to lower the crime rate and develop constructive Taiwan-China relations.
The pan-KMT's opposition's use of its legislative majority to irrationally boycott virtually everything President Chen and successive DPP Cabinets have proposed has and continues to be a prime factor in undermining the performance of the DPP government, but incessant referral to this factor can by no means excuse the DPP government's lackluster performance.
Nevertheless, the most lethal wounds to the continuance of DPP governance may well becoming from the rear as continued under-the-table backstabbing among the four contenders will only drag the DPP deeper into the swamp.
Instead of focusing on primary guidelines, what is necessary for the DPP is a candid, frank and an open-minded internal coordination on whom will be the best candidate to represent the party and win the 2008 presidential race based on a common strategy for the upcoming polls.
Even if President Chen was free of pressure from the current scandals, it would be appropriate or in keeping with the DPP's democratic culture and systems for him to designate a "successor."
We urge the potential bidders for the DPP's presidential nomination to formulate and present their visions for Taiwan's future course in the coming decade and offer voters their views on how Taiwan can overcome the "birthing pains" of our new democracy, institutionalize a new and workable constitutional framework, and, while reminding the public of the "clear and present danger" of China's rise and ambitions to annex Taiwan, how to strike the balance between safeguarding Taiwan's economic and political autonomy and promoting "win-win" cross-strait economic interaction.
It is up to the DPP's internal democratic processes of consultation to make the final call and for all contenders to accept the final result.


Updated : 2021-04-21 17:07 GMT+08:00