Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Carnival of Idiots

David at jujuflop has been doing yeoman work chronicling the Carnival of Idiots a.k.a. the recall motion and its associated politicking. I'm swamped at the moment, so visit his excellent posts on Who really wants Chen recalled? and Update on no-confidence vote, in which he discusses some of the constitutional issues. David notes in asking what would happen if Annette Lu, the current Veep, became President:

If Chen is recalled, then the current Vice-president Annette Lu will immediately take over and serve out the rest of Chen’s term (i.e. until May 2008). That would mean:

  • Someone who is a much more outspoken advocate of Taiwanese Independence than Chen has ever been would be president.
  • Someone who is even less of a diplomat (more abrasive and less likely to compromise her principals to get agreement) would be president.
  • A recalled Chen would lose nearly all his control over the DPP. Given that Chen is generally hindering reform and progress in the DPP now, that could only be good news for the DPP (and so bad news for the KMT).
  • Despite the fact that Chen won’t be running in 2008, one of the KMT’s likely trump cards in that (and the preceding Legislative elections) would have been ‘look how badly CSB has cocked things up’. With Chen long-gone, this is much less powerful.
  • One of Annette Lu’s (few) strong points is her perceived strong personal integrity and distance from any corruption scandals. A godsend to the DPP in their current scandal-ridden mess, but not for the KMT.
  • One of the ways that the DPP have won elections in the past was by winding up China and causing them to do something stupid; CSB was a master at this. Although China seem to have wised up to this tactic, the only politician in the world who can rile China more than Chen Shui-bian is Annette Lu.

One might add that Lu is the last link to the human rights, democracy, and independence movement of the 1970s, with Shih Ming-te, Hsu Hsin-liang, Lin Yi-hsiung, and others all gone. Current core DPP leaders Frank Hsieh, Chen Shui-bian, and Su Tseng-cheng were the lawyers for this crowd, the Kaohsiung 8, during their trial, and later came to prominence with the DPP. They represent a later generation of the independence and democracy movement. Lu is an fire-eating independence radical who was imprisoned and tortured by the KMT, but she also came of age in an earlier movement that had a considerable component of mainlanders, and may be more amenable to cooperation with the KMT than many might think. Further, many in her generation regret the bitter polarization of the island's ethnic groups that the KMT wrought and which has now become SOP for all parties. The movement was also more avowedly left-wing in its economic orientation in those days than the current center-right DPP. Who knows what Lu might actually attempt to do?

I see less of a possibility that this will backfire on the KMT, though I agree that the risks are huge, especially for Chairman Ma Ying-jeou of the KMT, who as Chairman must appear to be in control, and must constantly risk saying something stupid since he must talk so much. I suspect that the Blue strategy is to ameliorate this possibility by the constant raising of new issues. The past few days have seen new accusations on the Sogo vouchers, that Chen passed them out at a 2003 banquet, and new claims from Blue legislators that the DPP is cooking the government books and that Taiwan is really almost bankrupt. Actually, I found the latter accusation the most believable of any Blue accusation to date. Every time I go get some health service I wonder where the money is coming from.

Meanwhile the death threats continue...yesterday the front page of the Taipei Times featured a PFP legislator pointing a gun at a doll, and intimating that Chen should "end it all." Nice. UPDATE: ESWN has photo and comments too.

1 comment:

Wulingren said...

Great points! Thanks, and thanks also for linking to my sight. I've added a link to yours as well. Your view of Taiwan is key to understanding the situation here.