The party almost lost the city of Taichung in central Taiwan, a race that should have been a slam dunk. Most unsettling is the rising voter support for the anti-unification “greens” that caught many observers by surprise.The key thing to take away from this is not the numbers which will certainly change in subsequent elections -- the municipal vote is not coterminous with the presidential vote -- but the rise of the DPP irrespective of whatever flexibility is in the numbers. And especially, the rise of DPP Chair Tsai Ing-wen who now appears to have a clear lead in the runup to the DPP 2012 presidential nomination. The CS Monitor observers:
In islandwide tallies, the DPP won nearly 50 percent of the total vote, compared with less than 45 percent for the KMT, an advantage of more than 400,000 votes. This was a large erosion of support for President Ma and his party, which won the 2008 presidential race by more than 2.2 million votes. Turnout of 72 percent was unusually high for local elections, reinforcing the menacing math for the China-friendly KMT. The opposition also pulled even with the KMT in seats on local city councils across the island, showing strong support at the grassroots level that has traditionally been a heavy advantage for the ruling party.
One conclusion from all this is that Taiwan's two-party system is working better than many analysts had believed. It is now obvious, too, that Ma is vulnerable in 2012, when he is expected to stand for a second term and could initiate political talks with Beijing.
DPP members give much of the credit to Tsai Ying-wen, a British-educated law professor, trade negotiator, and former vice-premier who took over party leadership in May 2008. With her makeover of the DPP's former image as a bastion of fundamentalists who stridently advocate Taiwan's independence of China, Ms. Tsai is a different kind of opposition leader.This difference, the "New" DPP, is also a theme in Project 2049 head Randall Schriver's call for the US to open a channel to the DPP. The Taipei Times reported:
The fact that this DPP is headed by the redoubtable Tsai Ing-wen, with a western education, excellent English skills, and a moderate image, will make it hard for the US to dismiss her and for Beijing to demonize her. Tsai and the DPP may also benefit if the US-China relationship continues to go south.
At a Heritage Foundation discussion on the elections, Schriver said: “The US government needs to pay some attention to the potential return to power of the DPP.”
He said he was not making a partisan statement, but rather that he was basing his recommendations on what happened the last time the DPP was in power.
Schriver said that many senior political leaders in the US did not understand the DPP, its motivations or its core interests.
“And that led to some difficulties,” he said.
If the DPP should come to power again, the US should be careful not to repeat the mistakes it made in the past, Schriver said.
One thing that would help is for the media to stop putting the negative term "anti-" in front of descriptions of the DPP. The DPP is a pro-Taiwan party. Its positions on other issues flow from that, and that is how it should be described.
The Economist also turned in an excellent commentary on the election, though the person who titled it Taiwan’s voters are inching towards a kind of closer union with the mainland didn't read it very closely.....
The DPP has anyway reinvented itself. Two years ago it was at a low point: its former leader, Chen Shui-bian, had been sent to jail on charges of corruption. President in 2000-08, he was a firebrand for explicit independence. But under the leadership of Ms Tsai, a new generation of moderates has emerged and the DPP is working hard to attract professionals and youths. Ms Tsai has been hailed as a DPP candidate for the presidency, as has Su Tseng-chang, who served under Mr Chen.The thinktank mentioned above is actually dual; one part will focus on domestic issues, the other on China issues. Part of the problem is not merely formulating a China policy but also reining in the rowdy independence of DPPers who have the ugly habit of getting off message, as I've often complained on this blog, and creating a place from which authoritative policy statements on China can be made.
Their party is now doing its best to show that it too can engage with Beijing. Ms Tsai announced plans for a think-tank to act as a point of contact between the DPP and China, provided their talks can be held without preconditions. Ms Tsai tells the Taiwanese public that her party presents a “trustworthy alternative” to Mr Ma’s hasty approach to China.
And for all the media organs that erroneously said this election represented support for Ma's pro-China policies, as a pro-Taiwan friend of mine remarked, "if this election signals support for Ma, fantastic! I hope Ma enjoys even greater support in the 2012 presidential election."
- US has no position on the status of Taiwan and has intimate cooperation between the two militaries.
- Cable cars planned for Ta-ken Scenic Area in Taichung. Because every city must robotically do whatever Taipei does. No city can be different. Up next: the Mayor of Chiayi announces the construction of a set of metro lines centered around a 101 story building that incorporates a gondola ride to the top.
- Lee Guan Yew on China's rise and how the US should respond. Not gonna happen Dr. L, the US is too busy making sure Central Asia is properly pacified for Chinese expansion.
- China skepticism spreads in Korea.
- WaPo: China ad or article?
- I think I will laugh for days over this, the finest article ever published in a refereed journal. Pay close attention to reviewer's comments. NIH link to same: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles. Don't miss 2007 replication: Robert Didden, Jeff Sigafoos, Mark F. O’Reilly, Giulio E. Lancioni, & Peter Sturmey. (2007) A multisite cross-cultural replication of Upper’s (1974) unsuccessful self-treatment of writer’s block. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 40, 773, Winter 2007
- DKOS with extensive article on NASA announcement of new kind of life. Awesome.
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