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Aug 24, 2011

Did the DPP miss the boat?

Examining today's news articles about the DPP's cross-strait platform -- that the '92 consensus doesn't exist, that they want to stick with the "Taiwan consensus," that they just want to get along under an unspecified formula -- and examining the scathing criticism from the KMT, I'm getting the impression that the KMT is going to win this propaganda war and therefore the election.

(Just before what I sense is this swing, I'd say the DPP probably had damn near a 50% chance of winning. A year ago, I would have put it only at 30%, so there has been strong improvement. But at the moment I'd project a safe 54% vote percentage for Ma).

Long ago, I started to believe that even the phrase "'92 concensus" was devastating to DPP arguments. The vagueness of the phrase and China's willingness to "accept" it plays directly in to pro-unification hands, because it ignores that China's really only agreed to accept that Taiwan is a part of the PRC, which has only one legitimate government, them.

Rather, the DPP should have always been framing the KMT position in terms of "One China = same country."
"One China" is not some abstract cultural notion; the KMT position is that Taiwan and China are still the same country, politically, just temporarily and most unfortunately divided by civil war. Now that's the real KMT position, and it's the position that's politically untenable in Taiwan. The truth is, even "One China, two interpretations" leaves enough wiggle room in the voter's imaginations they don't realize they've played into the "unification" end game.

That's not to say people don't realize the KMT is ultimately pro-unification. Rather, most voters believe the "no unification, no independence, no use of force" position of Ma's administration is a tenable long-term strategy and the essence of the KMT stance -- because that "status quo" feeling is exactly what the voters want. Of course, the problem for Taiwan's future democracy is that "no unification, no independence, no use of force" is merely cover for a completely and obviously unsustainable "One China, same country, but no unification."

I think the DPP's in trouble. Maybe I should spend less time speculating on how the Chinese might react to a Tsai victory, and more time trying to ascertain what lies in store for Taiwan during a second Ma term.

9 comments:

Little Dog said...

i don't think tsai is all lost. however, your comment is absolutely sobering for dpp. i have long said that tsai has a poll that is superficially high until election date which can be delutional. there is a gradual and major shift of support among those people who are impacted by the ECFA, farmers and doctors who traditionally have been 100% for dpp are now migrating on this major issue. tsai should focus more on the domestic social issue and drop the external one. ma does have a problem on the domestic side. if she is concerned over the loss of her extreme taiwan supporters if she is seen as if betraying on the china issue, she needs not to worry as she will have them anyway, a bien is a case in point. if she assures the people she is not going to be controversial over "china issue", she can reestablish herself soildly on the domestic issues that will win her a victory. the china taiwan issue will be resolved, and resolved by china through the change in china. i wrote ealier that there is a growing awareness among the chinese people i met that china might have given taiwan too much, ironically, it is the same awareness that will set taiwan free. such a grass root feelings is a sign that average chinese are taking their distinct realisation that we are different, a de factor recognization of two countries. something tsai can achieve without resorting to a fight.

Tommy said...

A Gu:

a) Tsai has been presenting planks of her platform all week -- on social housing, on housing inflation, on jobs, on demographics. Only the latest plank has been about cross-strait issues. Most have been about social issues.

b) Her plank on cross-strait issues is not a bad idea. Will it gain her votes? Maybe not. But I think the point was to come up with something that was not all bad rather than to come up with something outstanding. It is clear that Tsai knows that she won't win on the cross-strait issue. In fact, she has almost neglected the subject until now.

c) Tsai has not yet announced a running mate.

d) The DPP has a big party conference coming up this week where ALL planks of the platform will be presented.

c) If you look at Yahoo Taiwan, which brings together opinions from both blue and green publications, coverage of the Diane Lee case and of Soong's Persian Cat comments have been getting more coverage than Tsai's comments on cross-strait issues. The critiques about Tsai are of the predictable sort -- from Ma, from Lai Shin yuan, stuff saying how important the 92 consensus is.

d) Global Views' most recent poll shows Tsai behind by only 1.6, and by 1.2 if Soong runs. The poll for last month showed her tied with Ma. Most polls that have showed Ma convincingly ahead have been from blue outlets.

I am not saying that your pessimism is entirely unjustified. Ma's chances have always been greater, and they still are. What I am saying is that you should not be acting as though the DPP goose is cooked. Rather, you should always have been giving the possibility of a second Ma term more weight. But you shouldn't have been considering the possibility of a Tsai victory any less either. That's because, nobody knows how this election will go. Five months remain, and many wild cards have not been thrown down yet. Soong has not entered yet. Tsai has not introduced her running mate. China could do something stupid, thereby helping the DPP. China could also do something to help Ma, such as allowing a FTA to go forward or removing some missiles. You get the idea.

Raj said...

I don't believe that Tsai's election revolves around the 1992 "consensus" and cross-strait policy. If the KMT is going to lie and the voters buy it, so be it. But at the end of the day they care about bread-and-butter issues. China isn't an issue at the moment.

Taiwan Echo said...

Little Dog: there is a gradual and major shift of support among those people who are impacted by the ECFA, farmers and doctors who traditionally have been 100% for dpp are now migrating on this major issue.

Where did you get that idea ? Is there any poll or objective data/observation to support that claim ?

Taiwan Echo said...

Tommy: coverage of the Diane Lee case and of Soong's Persian Cat comments have been getting more coverage than Tsai's comments on cross-strait issues.

That might be a hint to why the non-guilty verdict on Diane Lee's case was announced right at this moment even the judge's logic is so ridiculous.

Taiwan Echo said...

Raj:I don't believe that Tsai's election revolves around the 1992 "consensus" and cross-strait policy. If the KMT is going to lie and the voters buy it, so be it. But at the end of the day they care about bread-and-butter issues. China isn't an issue at the moment.

Agree with your observation. Ma Ying-jeou has to play the cross-strait card, 'cos for one he has nothing else to present. Most importantly, he has to answer to Beijing first before Beijing makes full effort to help(or get) him re-elected. He has sold his soul and now the devil is his only hope.

阿牛 said...

Thanks for all the comments.

Raj, you mention: "I don't believe that Tsai's election revolves around the 1992 'consensus' and cross-strait policy. If the KMT is going to lie and the voters buy it, so be it. But at the end of the day they care about bread-and-butter issues. China isn't an issue at the moment."

There's some truth in this except that I believe (1) The issue will be paintable as a domestic economic issue, with China threatening to blow up present economic agreements and (2) no matter how dissatisfied the public is with Ma's domestic performance, I'm not sure Tsai can build the confidence and support to beat him on those issues, no matter how detailed a platform she lays out.

Honestly if I were the DPP, I would do my best to put *most* of the emphasis on the legislative election -- you need the legislature to do anything. Unfortunately, the centralized nature of news coverage and the general overemphasis on the President's powers may keep that from being a very viable strategy.

阿牛 said...

Tommy, you mention: "What I am saying is that you should not be acting as though the DPP goose is cooked."

That's true, but I always try to speculate pretty far ahead based on present mood and what I consider predictable factors. And in this case I sense a sea change here from what was going to be a close race to one that Ma will end up winning somewhat handily. Then again, there's still *plenty* of time for things to change, and for that matter I'm not some crystal ball.

STOP Ma said...

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I think Tsai's rejection of the 1992 'so-called' consensus (but is not a consensus at all) is absolutely the right thing to do.

But, as I think you are hinting at A-gu, Tsai should be explaining "WHY" the 1992 so-called consensus is absolute nonsense -- even if it was "real". To merely focus on the fact that the one who coined the phrase denied it happened is simply not good enough. It simply sets up a "he said -- she said" scenario.

Tsai should be deflating the completely illogical notion that this consensus is not really a consensus at all. You can not have a "consensus" when the primary concept in the agreement is not agreed upon. "2 interpretations" actually means "we agree to disagree".

This is hardly a "consensus"!!!

It's elementary my dear Watson.
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