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Home Editorials of Interest Taipei Times DPP needs coherent policies to win

DPP needs coherent policies to win

With exactly a month to go before the Dec. 5 three-in-one local government and township elections, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) launched its campaign on Wednesday, calling on voters to punish the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government for its poor performance.

After almost two years in the wilderness following the DPP’s crushing defeats in legislative and presidential elections, and the ongoing struggle to contain the fallout from former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) saga, the DPP seems confident that now is a good time to start its comeback.

The present conditions are certainly favorable, as the KMT finds itself beset with problems.

Aside from the numerous splits it faces in the county commissioner races, the KMT goes into the elections with a poor record at national level since returning to power. Pre-election promises on the economy and the benefits of increased cross-strait interaction have failed to materialize, and despite having a legislative majority the KMT still seems to have trouble passing any legislation of substance.

The government’s handling of several problems, including Typhoon Morakot and now the US beef controversy, has made a mockery of the KMT’s oft-repeated claims during the Chen administration that only it had the experience to govern.

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has proved to be anything but the smooth operator his pre-election imagery promised. It turns out the Keystone Cops would have been a more accurate image.

As a weak leader, Ma’s decision to take over as KMT chairman is only likely to increase his problems if early indications — such as the party’s recent Central Standing Committee election fiasco — are anything to go by.

Worst of all, the KMT has cozied up to the Chinese Communist Party in ways that pose a real threat to the nation’s democracy and independence.

While it is true that local elections focus mainly on local issues, the poor performance of the government cannot fail to have some effect on the appeal of KMT candidates.

Nevertheless, the DPP cannot afford to rest on its laurels.

Simply lambasting the KMT for doing a terrible job may be an effective, risk-free strategy for now — after all, it’s a strategy the KMT used successfully — and doing so certainly provides the DPP with plenty of ammunition, but it will not help the party solidify support for future elections.

Two years is a long time in politics, so even if the DPP does do well next month, it will need something else to fall back on should the government manage to get its act together and navigate its way to 2012 on the back of an improving economy while avoiding any more major mishaps.

At the local level, the DPP did lots of good work post-Morakot at the grassroots level, but this was in the south where support is already strong. The DPP really needs to build on this and formulate a concerted, long-term effort to make inroads into areas north of the Jhuoshuei River (濁水溪), taking the battle against the KMT into the pan-blue heartlands. This will not be easy.

On a national scale, meanwhile, first and foremost the DPP needs to come up with a coherent China policy ahead of 2012, as Taiwan’s giant rival is an issue that any prospective government needs to tackle head-on.

With Taiwan’s future at stake, the DPP cannot afford to rely solely on disappointed KMT voters and the cyclical changes of power that occur in mature democracies, because unlike other nations, Taiwan has powerful external forces working to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Source: Taipei Times - Editorials 2009/11/06

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