The DPP is afraid of the emerg­ing third force

The China Post - - COMMENTARY -

Tsai Ing-wen, chair­woman of the Demo­cratic Pro­gres­sive Party (DPP) and its stan­dard bearer in next year’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, spat­ted with her party’s most in­flu­en­tial for­mer Chair­man Lin Yih­si­ung early last week over her fail­ure to help the newly formed New Power Party ( ) and So­cial Demo­cratic Party ( ) field can­di­dates for leg­isla­tive elec­tions. The pres­i­den­tial and leg­isla­tive elec­tions will take place on Jan. 16 next year.

While DPP Chair­man Lin got Chen Shui-bian nom­i­nated for pres­i­dent in the elec­tion of 2000, but quit the party af­ter Chen’s elec­tion. He suc­ceeded in get­ting the Leg­isla­tive Yuan to slash half of its seats, and forced the Kuom­intang ad­min­is­tra­tion to sus­pend con­struc­tion on Tai­wan’s Fourth Nu­clear Power Sta­tion, or Nuke 4, through his week­long hunger strike. He is con­vinced that the DPP needs the help of the emerg­ing third-force par­ties to break up the un­in­ter­rupted Kuom­intang mo­nop­oly in the na­tion’s high­est leg­isla­tive or­gan.

On the other hand, Tsai has been buoyed by the land­slide vic­tory in the na­tion­wide com­bined lo­cal elec­tions last Novem­ber and her suc­cess­ful “cam­paign” tour of the United States. She thinks she is in­vin­ci­ble — Time Mag­a­zine just opined “She could lead the only Chi­nese democ­racy” — and can get more law­mak­ers ride into of­fice on her coat­tails. She doesn’t wish to help the emerg­ing third force.

Of course, Tsai is wrong. Lin cer­tainly is right. Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent public opin­ion sur­vey re­leased by the Tai­wan Brain Trust, 45 per­cent of the public in­tend to sup­port the third-force po­lit­i­cal par­ties in next year’s leg­isla­tive elec­tions. Aside from the newly formed ones, the third-force par­ties in­clude the old Tai­wan Sol­i­dar­ity Al­liance ( ), the Green Party ( ) and the Tree Party ( ). Shih Ming-teh, another for­mer DPP chair­man who or­ga­nized the March of One Mil­lion in 2006 to top­ple Pres­i­dent Chen Shui-bian in vain, is run­ning for pres­i­dent as an in­de­pen­dent. He may form one more third-force party.

What is the real rea­son Tsai re­fuses to sup­port the third-force par­ties? She is afraid that they may erode the power of her party. That’s why Lin crit­i­cized her for “op­press­ing” the third-force par­ties. He even said he will vote for Shih for old time’s sake in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

The third force is on the rise not just be­cause the public is dis­sat­is­fied with the two ma­jor par­ties. There surely is a wider public ex­pec­ta­tion for a change on Tai­wan’s po­lit­i­cal map through pop­ulist trans­for­ma­tion. Young swing vot­ers, who have given up hope on Tai­wan’s abysmally lack­lus­ter two-party sys­tem, look for­ward to hav­ing a much more ef­fec­tive say in pol­i­tics.

Un­for­tu­nately, they will be let down. Few of the third­force par­ties of­fer any in­spir­ing and cre­ative po­lit­i­cal vi­sions. Like the DPP, they are just anti-Kuom­intang and ded­i­cated ideally to in­de­pen­dence for Tai­wan, which is im­pos­si­ble. Since the Kuom­intang is ideally ded­i­cated to even­tual Chi­nese uni­fi­ca­tion, the DPP and the third-force par­ties try to win elec­tions by ap­peal­ing to the anti-China sen­ti­ments of the peo­ple and their pen­chant for Tai­wan in­de­pen­dence.

More vot­ers, if the vot­ing age is low­ered to 18, will sup­port the third force. But these small par­ties won’t be­come the real third force, for they can’t of­fer for­ward-look­ing vi­sions for solv­ing the is­sue of in­de­pen­dence ver­sus uni­fi­ca­tion, mit­i­gat­ing the end­less con­flicts be­tween the two ma­jor par­ties and en­abling Tai­wan to join the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity against China’s op­po­si­tion.

The fu­ture for the third force doesn’t bode well. De­spite Tsai’s ap­pre­hen­sion, the like of the New Power Party and So­cial Demo­cratic Party won’t re­place the DPP as the sec­ond force. They will be a mere wing of the DPP at best, just like an un­named party the lead­ers of the Sun­flower Move­ment that hi­jacked the Leg­isla­tive Yuan for more than three weeks in the spring of 2014 are try­ing to form. The Sun­flower stu­dent ac­tivists car­ried out the move­ment un­der guid­ance and with the sup­port of Tsai’s op­po­si­tion party.

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