Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Complaints from the Blue Team

Chen Shui-bian had another two months added to his detention this week. The judges say that Chen, under 24 hour guard as a former president, is a flight risk. Once again, I thank the KMT for keeping Chen in detention, ensuring that he does not disrupt the upcoming elections, enabling DPP Chairman Tsai to carry out a smooth transition to the post-Chen era, and displaying for all to see the political aspects of his prosecution. Apple Daily called for his release on humanitarian grounds.

The China Times, pro-KMT but often functioning as a sort of loyal opposition paper, had this to say in an editorial hosted at KNN:
After years of thinning out, KMT party strength is considerably diminished at the grassroots. Compared to its early years, the KMT has fewer human resources, less equipment, and is smaller in scale. When party officials conducted field visits in the past, it was all pomp and circumstance. They were the equals of county executives and city mayors. Their decisions were final. County executives and city mayors could only nod. Even central and local-level elected officials were at their beck and call. But the golden age for authoritarian political parties has passed. Today when party officials conduct field visits, they must bow and scrape, and often get the cold shoulder. When nominees for local elections find themselves at loggerheads, they ask party-central officials to mediate, not always with success.

Times have changed. Officials from party headquarters have become a nightmare for party workers. They may have devoted a lifetime to the party. But the highest level, to which they can probably rise, is local party chapter chairman. But their positions have now become crosses to bear. In recent years, such positions have become a place to put party officials out to pasture. Outgoing legislators who want to run but who are unelectable, candidates who were pressured to withdraw, and anyone who unsuccessfully sought office, can be placed in these support positions. Such support positions are sources of friction due to post-election grievances and local or clan interests. Mediating between the heads of local factions is even more difficult.
The piece continues a bit further down:
Next, King Pu-chung recruited outsiders to conduct an evaluation of the party's use of human resources, and to recruit campaign volunteers for the Five Special Municipality Elections. Judging by past elections, the Democratic Progressive Party, whether it was in the opposition or in power, made far better use of volunteers than the KMT. Young DPP volunteers wrote songs, choreographed dances, and set up websites. Old DPP volunteers engaged in word of mouth campaigning through radio and television talk shows, in the parks, and local markets. These volunteers were campaign workers during the election, and party supporters after the election. There were no personnel expenditures involved. While the KMT was in the opposition for eight years, it began studying this approach. But it never got the hang of it. To recruit older volunteers it always had to mobilize. The most spontaneous of volunteers were older women. But even they were recruited through women's associations. Youth groups were once an important force behind KMT strength. Youth groups shone at public relations during the Kuan Chung era. But it is far more difficult for young people to rise through the ranks of the KMT than the DPP. The most successful example of a volunteer effort in recent years was the Red Shirt Army. But that was a spontaneous movement. The Chen corruption case outraged the public, creating a supportive social climate. When the Chen corruption case ended, the Red Shirt Army lost its rallying point. Its supporters each had their own political preferences. This political force is unlikely to play a key role in the future.
It must be hard for a party held together by money flows and whose theology consists of snuffing out Taiwan as an independent entity, to recruit volunteers in Taiwan. I feel their pain.... the editorial ends with some stinging criticisms of the KMT's position.
The DPP is slightly weaker in the central Taiwan region. But it is stronger in the two southern cities. It has many strong candidates. In the north its "Princes" are readying for battle. By contrast, the KMT has no heavy hitters in the south. The incumbent Taipei County Executive may have trouble in winning nomination for the new Xinbei City Mayor. The party is unaccustomed to internal debate. It is unable to put forth qualified candidates. Even pollsters are having trouble taking the political temperature. The nomination process and candidates may be flexible. But for the sake of momentum it would be better to present its roster of candidates, and engage in public debate. Election controversy is nothing to fear. Only lively public debate can create momentum. In order to win the Five Special Municipality Elections, the third and most important thing the KMT must do is encourage its leading candidates. The "Princes" of the party must have to the courage to say: I am willing to fight for the party.
The latest China Times poll has the DPP's Su ahead of the KMT's Hau in the year-end elections for the Greater Taipei Municipality ("New North City" is such a freaking ugly name). Su was Taipei County Magistrate several years before, did a bang-up job, and has a good rep in the north, while the outgoing KMT magistrate has turned in a lackluster performance.

The editorial also raises the interesting question of the future of the KMT. Who are its up and coming leaders? Not exactly thick upon the ground....
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Thomas said...

The China Times editorial should interest anyone who has read David Shambaugh's China's Communist Party. Among the many studies that Shambaugh cites that examined the collapse of the USSR and other Leninist party states are erosion of organizational control, erosion of party authority, and erosion of mobilization capability. If it weren't for the potential of an invasion by China, I would be much more optimistic about Taiwan's future. The myth of the responsible, professional KMT that was so bandied about before Ma's inauguration is precisely that. A myth.

N.J said...

Why Su Tseng-chang is DPP popular choice for the presidential elections 2012 and his opinion polls rating are very high too?
I mean, this man as the DPP presidential nominee lost by 2 millions defeat 2 years ago.
If he was that popular, he, as the VP hopeful wouldn't have lost so heavily 2 years so is everything to be blamed on Frank Hsieh ( who still want to run for presidential election 2012 amazingly )
I don't know who else is there in DPP to run for the presidency but can Su win in 2012 when he lost in 2008 by 2 million votes to Ma who will be his challenger again when the time came.
Or is Mr President Ma so useless and unpopular that in 2 years time, Taiwanese are going to vote in Su as President instead whom they themselves rejected 4 years ago with a heavy defeat.

Marc said...

I think this volunteer issue was well-illustrated during the presidential campaign.

When I visited Frank Hsieh's DPP HQ. the place was rockin' with old and young volunteers alike, music was playing, tea was being poured, envelopes stuffed, sunlight was pouring in, laughter filled the air and the cash register was ringing away as people snapped up campaign regalia.

THEN, I took a walk to the KMT HQ, with it armed guards and vast, dark and nearly-empty entry hall. No one was there but three subdued receptionists who looked at me as if I were a visiting ghost. I felt like Frodo entering Mordor.

The problem, it seems, for the KMT, is one of organizational culture. They were never about the people, but the ideology. And that ideology looks like a vast and empty dark hall.

Anonymous said...

New North City is as stupid sounding as New Jersey and New York. And they ARE stupid sounding.

apple said...

The institutional and financial advantages the KMT enjoy will wither away over time. Indeed if the DPP win the presidency in 2012 this will hasten the process. Taiwan's democracy is doing OK except for the China factor. The real worry is that the KMT in its weakness seeks to move increasingly closer to the CCP. As the CCP's influence in Taiwan becomes greater this is the greatest threat to Taiwan democracy.

The DPP have several potential winning candidates for the 2012 election too. The only thing they have to do is make sure that the nomination process goes smoothly and the party is united behind a single candidate.

Anonymous said...

Su Tseng-chang seems like a straight shooter with high administrative competence (this is a very, very good contrast against Ma or any other likely KMT candidates), but his biggest problem, I think, is he doesn't really say anything visionary.

Tsai Yingmen, damn she is thoughtful, and getting better at talking to the media too. I watched Obama's state of the union and a couple of press conferences on CSPAN after having been in Taiwan for a long time. Wow! What the heck?! Those two speak in eerily similar ways!!!

If we can get the Obama brain to think about Taiwan seriously and if he's reelected and Tsai is elected president in Taiwan, it would be an amazing meeting for the two to talk together. 2013, an auspicious year for the Taiwan Straits?

Richard said...

Hsieh has a great following from all ages, mainly due to his tech-savviness (Plurk). I would still hope to see Hsieh run again in 2012, as I believe he would have won in 2008 had it not been for the CSB woes that plagued the DPP party.

On the news about Taiwan Beer entering China market... will it remain "Taiwan Beer" in China? Or become a, "Zhongguo Taipei Beer" or something ridiculous like that.