By Chin Heng-wei 金恆煒
Thursday, Dec 01, 2005,Page 8
Last Sunday, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) pulled out all the stops ahead of Saturday's elections, in a bid to boost their popularity. But the key to winning the elections will be whether they can mobilize their diehard supporters. The party that can better mobilize its base will have an advantage.
Many people are saying that voters don't care about these elections, and that this is the case for both KMT and DPP supporters. After KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) launched a march to mobilize supporters, the DPP organized a march in response. Interestingly, the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) was unwilling to ally itself with the DPP, while the People First Party (PFP) refused to dance to the KMT's tune. PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) even ridiculed the demonstrations. As a result, it seems that Saturday's elections are basically a battle between the two major parties.
Even though both parties organized marches on Sunday, there remain many issues in need of discussion. People say that the DPP is good only at election-eering. This may be the case. But putting aside the local and foreign nature of the two parties for the moment, the DPP's performance on Sunday was far superior to the KMT's.
First, each party had a different strategy. From the beginning, the KMT has billed the elections as the first step for Ma, the pan-blue camp's savior, in his campaign to win the 2008 presidential election. It has therefore targeted President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) almost exclusively.
From the exposure of scandals by TVBS related to former Presidential Office deputy secretary-general Chen Che-nan (陳哲男) and the first family we can see that the pro-blue media and legislators have already started to campaign for the 2008 presidential election. That is why the KMT called on its supporters to protest in front of the Presidential Office.
The problem is, that there are no elections scheduled for Taipei City this time around. Gathering tens of thousands of people in front of the Presidential Office was simply a way of pandering to the blue camp's "presidential dream."
The DPP's strategy was clearly different. The party gathered supporters and began its activities in Pingtung County, the southern tip of Taiwan, and then moved north, ending with events in Taipei County, the most highly contested district in this election. Meanwhile, it also launched marches in all other counties and cities led by its local candidates. This is how a campaign should be. More importantly, it evoked memories of last year's hand-in-hand rally for many people and was in line with its slogan of "uphold reform, defend Taiwan."
Following on from its success in uncovering the Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corp (KRTC) scandal, the KMT thought that it could defeat the DPP using the slogan "oppose corruption, save Taiwan." However, perhaps candidates themselves are even more important than their partisanship in local government elections.
Among the KMT's nominees for the 23 counties and cities, at least eight are allegedly involved in corruption. Its nominee for Taichung City, Jason Hu (胡志強), is accused of converting his years of party service into government service in order to increase his pension, and its nominee for Taipei County, Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋), is suspected of corruption as well. In total, one-third of its nominees are suspected of being involved in corruption.
By brandishing slogans opposing corruption, one would have to ask is the KMT fighting itself? The French poet Charles Baudelaire said, "The devil's deepest wile is to persuade us that he does not exist." This also goes for corruption in the KMT.
Chin Heng-wei is the editor-in-chief of Contemporary Monthly magazine.
Translated by Eddy Chang