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Feb 13, 2008

DPP to support KMT referendum as well

After ridiculing the KMT for essentially faking their support for the "return to the UN" referendum that will be held on March 22 with the presidential election, the DPP decided to support the referendum regardless.

DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-Ming (柯建銘) explained the move as an effort to out-flank the KMT's likely plan to refuse to take the referendum ballots. The move was approved by both President Chen Shui-bian and Vice President Annette Lu.

There is an odd thing about the press coverage of the referendums: Western media coverage is clearly being driven by Chinese and Taiwanese media coverage instead of the facts. For example, far more attention has been paid to the DPP referendum than the KMT version, mostly because (1) The KMT doesn't say much itself about its own referendum bid, hoping people will forget all about it (2) The CCP appears to have some sort of tactic understanding on the issue with the KMT, and has focused its energy on slamming the DPP proposal while ignoring the KMT's referendum -- pretty much the same play the KMT is running and (3) The DPP has been relatively quiet on the KMT referendum as well, focusing on its own referendum without suggesting any official position on the KMT referendum.

Perhaps this strategic move will also refocus media attention.

We shall see how the KMT reacts. My guess is they will have some rumblings today about how the objection is not to referendums, but to "kidnapping" the election by using referendums; the party will then hold a central committee meeting to formulate an official response, especially with the first presidential debate approaching on 2.24; and finally, the party will officially decide to not take their own referendum ballot on the blatantly false premise that there's something perverted, illegal or anti-democratic about handing out all referendum ballots on the same day as an election.

Update: Looks like I was wrong. According to the China Times via People's Daily, the KMT spokesman welcomes the DPP's support for the KMT referendum, and internal KMT deliberations have decided that rejecting their own UN refrendum ballots would be "too hard" because the DPP could easily "put a red hat on the KMT's head" and accuse them of "singing in concert with the Chinese Communist Party." The KMT still said it opposed holding the referendum with the election in principal, however.

The KMT is holding out the option of asking their voters to not take the DPP's UN entry ballot while taking the KMT's UN reentry ballot, however.

Now this is really getting interesting. For both referendums to fail, I think you'd have to have either (a) a rejection of the referendum topics by the Taiwanese population, in spite of the position of all major parties or (b) continued efforts to actually downplay the referendum by the KMT.

I would note that when the details of Vincient Siew's secret meeting with the KMT leaked to the Apple Daily, one issue was that Siew promised the KMT wouldn't do anything different even if one or both of the referendum topics passed.

Update 2: maybe I spoke too soon. KMT is still asking for the elections to be held seperately, which is of course now impossible because of the CEC's decision -- which neither party can really do anything about.

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