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Home Editorials of Interest Taipei Times The crucial mistake in ‘blue-white alliance’

The crucial mistake in ‘blue-white alliance’

Robert Kennedy Jr, scion of the Massachusetts-based Kennedy political clan, is expected to announce tomorrow that he would not take part in any Democratic Party primary election, but would instead run as an independent candidate in next year’s US presidential election. This would pit him against fellow Democrat US President Joe Biden, who intends to run for re-election. The US media are not making a fuss about Kennedy’s plan to run, nor is anyone in the Democratic Party calling for “unity” or “consolidation,” or saying that anyone with low opinion poll ratings should quit the race. Indeed, Kennedy has the right to run if he wants to.

Voting and standing in elections are both statutory rights in any democracy. With the rules of the game set out beforehand, the emphasis is on open and fair competition, not allowing politicians to act as “kingmakers” by forcing political parties with different philosophies to cobble together a pair of electoral candidates. While such a “teamwork” strategy might be euphemistically called “uniting the opposition,” its real aim is to divide the spoils after winning the election, all in the name of “rotation of parties in government.”

Independent candidate Terry Gou’s (郭台銘) call for a “coalition of mainstream public opinion” and the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) efforts to co-opt Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) both deviate from the normal logic of party politics, which is for candidates to compete openly and win recognition by virtue of their party’s ideas and policies. If a merger is planned before an election, it would be a matter not of free competition, but of horse trading.

The proposal for a “blue-white alliance” is an attempt by the conservative KMT to merge with the TPP, which has no ideology to speak of. More than that, it is an attempt by the KMT to swallow the TPP, because it would have a direct impact on the TPP’s raison d’etre and the KMT’s modus operandi in this election.

The KMT’s strategy in elections has always been to sow division among Taiwanese. This time, it wants to use Ko to take away a share of the votes that would otherwise go to the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). However, contrary to the KMT’s expectations, Ko is attracting votes away from the KMT.

In the past, the KMT has generally picked a “hereditary pan-blue” as its presidential candidate, partnered with a Taiwanese candidate for vice president. On this occasion, however, it has broken the mold by nominating Taiwanese Hou You-yi (侯友宜) as its presidential candidate with another Taiwanese to stand for vice president, so it would be strange if “hereditary pan-blues” did not rise up in revolt.

Some of those who propose a “blue-white alliance” suggest comparing the three “non-green” candidates’ standing in opinion polls, and that the losers should either quit the race or accept standing for vice president, with the goal of achieving a “rotation of governing parties.”

However, although opinion polls have a scientific basis, they cannot precisely predict voting results. Otherwise, why spend so much money on organizing elections when everything could be decided by opinion polls?

Democratic elections involve open competition with political power going to the winner. In Taiwan, as in many other countries, any president is legally limited to two terms. However, there is no such time limit for a political party to be in power. The notion of so-called “rotation of governing parties” is therefore just a misleading slogan. It is up to the voters to decide whether there should be a change of party in government. In no sense do parties “take turns” in power, otherwise even the New Party, which has almost completely faded away, would sooner or later have its turn in office.

James Wang is a media commentator.

Translated by Julian Clegg

Source: Taipei Times - Editorials 2023/10/07

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Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) yesterday declined to apologize after being accused of making “reckless” remarks in response to a report in the ­Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper) on Monday that President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) motorcade abused its traffic privileges while the president was not in the car.

“I don’t understand what they are thinking,” Wang said. “Doesn’t the Liberty Times, which created a composite photograph that deviated from the truth, owe the public an explanation?”