Sensing the good within the KMT
By Paul Lin 林保華
Taipei Times  2014.11.15

Following the debate between Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei mayoral candidate Sean Lien (連勝文) and independent candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), the gap in support for the two men has grown. Apparently, the Lien family’s strategy of galvanizing its traditional core base by playing on pan-blue versus pan-green tensions has failed.

Polls have consistently placed Lien’s support rate at 30 percent or below. This is his core support base. It would make more sense for them to attract floating votes of the light-blue persuasion or the moderate swing vote. Trying to buy up voters with policy issues or instil a sense of crisis is no longer effective and could cause an even stronger counter-reaction.

The core are voters who do not look at the issues, but at party affiliation. They are the product of interest groups and party tutelage from when the KMT was the only option.

However, more people are looking at the state of the nation and are asking why things are so bad. President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and the Lien dynasty can try to fool people for a time, but in the end people get wise. If these politicians continue in the same vein, after they have been found out, they are insulting the electorate.

Several KMT members and supporters have already said they would cast their vote Ko’s way, or would not vote. The healthier elements within the KMT might vote for Ko, as this campaign has been one of truth versus lies and good versus bad. If Ko, who represents the better side, wins, he would bring in a new way of conducting politics, which would be a spiritual boost for the entire nation. It would make this election the nation’s second “peaceful revolution.”

Ko is a good man, with a direct personality and the ability to bring together diverse communities. He also has the humility to listen to differing opinions. This is the main reason his support has remained consistently high. His position of trying to move beyond pan-blue and pan-green politics and looking at the merits of individual policies is also winning increasing levels of support among the new generation of voters.

Although the debate was for a local election, it received unprecedented viewing figures, and the low number of responses saying “don’t know” or “no opinion” regarding who won the debate shows that people are engaging in politics. It might be reasonable to assume that encouraging people to vote would bring out the core, favoring the KMT, but the reality might turn out to be the exact opposite.

As Ko represents moderates, a win for him would not necessarily be a victory for the Democratic Progressive Party.

However, it would be a lesson for Ma and Lien, and the political elite they represent, and would give the KMT food for thought on its future.

Certain supporters within the KMT want to see Lien fall from his horse in the mayoral race, and they should also demand the party hold an election postmortem to reflect on what direction the party should go. It is great to see several KMT members and supporters mobilizing for the good of Taiwan. They represent a force for good within the party, and if this force grows stronger, it would reform the party from the inside and make it less elitist, more honest and more representative of the nation. Hopefully, a new KMT, and a more robust democracy, can emerge from this.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) suddenly, at this crucial juncture, announcing the successful conclusion of negotiations on a China-South Korean free-trade agreement was an intentional tug at Ma. It was the perfect carrot-and-stick combination, prompting politicians representing elite interests, experts and the press to say the deal is a good reason to pass cross-strait trade deals in goods and services. This also says a lot about the nature of the collusion between the elites of the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party.

The state into which the nation has sunk following the signing of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement has already made a lie of the assurances of political and business leaders, especially when the Global Times ran an editorial saying that Taiwan no longer has the wherewithal to resist China. It is true that the nation has fewer resources, but that does not mean it should allow people like Ma and the Lien dynasty to sell it down the river. This is the reason the forces for good within the KMT must stand up and be counted.

Paul Lin is a media commentator.

Translated by Paul Cooper


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