Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dafydd Fell on Democracy in Taiwan

A tiny bug on a big leaf.

I wanted to highlight Dafydd Fell's excellent piece in China Aktuelle on the evolution of perceptions of the island's democracy, and on the KMT and DPP in the last two years.
The sense of renewed optimism over the state of Taiwan’s democracy that followed the KMT’s return to power in 2008 was short lived. Public satisfaction with the performance of President Ma fell even more rapidly than that of Chen (TVBS Poll Center 2010). It has tended to hover between 20 and 30 per cent, reaching an all-time low of 16 per cent in August 2009. These are the kind of levels of public approval that Chen had for much of his second term. It is not surprising that the DPP has accused the KMT of reverting to authoritarian governing practices. Such claims are more than just sour grapes – Freedom House’s 2010 Freedom in the World report downgraded Taiwan’s civil liberties ranking from 1 to 2.
Read the whole thing, it is quite good.
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!


D said...

This is a good one. What do you (or anyone else) think of his electoral reform proposals? Specifically, to move away from the (US-modeled?) 2-party system. This strikes me as one of those ideas that makes sense on the surface but in the end may not be such a great idea after all.

One nitpick. He talks about low confidence in the government as if it were a bad thing (p. 190), but is it really? Go to those East Asian Barometer surveys he cites and look at Mainland China responses to "do you trust the government/political parties/court system/etc." The numbers are absurdly high! Maybe dissatisfaction is a healthy sign. Perhaps he means the dissatisfaction has become too extreme.

And is there any chance of one of these cross-party conventions he advocates happening?

skiingkow said...

"The sense of renewed optimism over the state of Taiwan’s democracy that followed the KMT’s return to power in 2008...

Are you effing kidding me?!!!

I don't know about you posters out there who were in Taiwan in 2008, but our family was absolutely DEVASTATED after the PandaMa victory. Nothing could have been further from "a sense of optimism".

Michael Turton said...

The problem, at its base, is only partly structural. Until the public votes in decent legislators, nothing can be done no matter what reforms we make.

Michael Turton said...

(d) Low confidence is a good thing? interesting idea.

Michael Turton said...

I don't know about you posters out there who were in Taiwan in 2008, but our family was absolutely DEVASTATED after the PandaMa victory. Nothing could have been further from "a sense of optimism".

We too. i can't think of anyone on our side who didn't know what was going to happen.

skiingkow said...

Overall, the piece is quite good.

I would have mentioned the KMT's complete disdain for democracy with their actions during the 2004 election.

I also don't believe democracy in Taiwan took a turn for the worse after 2000. Chen & the DPP being "anti-democratic" is just not true at all. Corrupt? Ok. But anti-democratic? Give me a freakin' break!

I'm sorry, but false equivalence is a big beef of mine.

Michael Turton said...

Mine too. But you can't write truth and get published.

Michael Turton said...

And is there any chance of one of these cross-party conventions he advocates happening?

Dont see how, but it would be interesting if it did.

Dixteel said...

The essay is not too bad but I think it should emphesize more on some major points in terms of democratic development.

For example:
1. KMT's large amount of "illegal" assets. The essay mentioned it but did not seem to grasp the impact it has on Taiwan's democratic development. Sure, the large amount of assets might not always result in KMT winning but certainly its negative impact on electoral quality can be felt throughout the years. Also, this problem cannot be dealt by KMT alone. It does not have the mean and the rights to do so.

2. China's negative influence on Taiwan's democracy. More analysis on this part could be helpful.

Also, I think if the KMT is totally reformed or replaced by a more normal party, then 2 party system will work, and work well. More parties do not mean better system. Quality, not quantity. The key point is not the party systems but the left over effect of Taiwan's authoritarian past that is re-emerging.

Sage said...

"U.S. takes a tougher tone with China"

By John Pomfret
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 30, 2010

* and I like that the USS George Washington will return to the Yellow Sea.

Unknown said...

Taiwanese people can not force anything; but we can ask with a unique proposition.

We need world class leader like South African Mandela who is able to talk sense to American people; we don't need patronage, perhaps empathy which we need. It is to create the better common future; I mean between democratic Taiwan and the United States. It is a win/ win proposition- and we need to voice loudly now.

We buy defense weapon; and it is not free. Without the support of American people, the politicians in the White House are not pro-active enough to lead. IMHO.

American foreign policy from Henry Kissinger down morally has gone down and made lots mistakes and wrong doings. Democratic Taiwan could be and perhaps will be the best strategic partner for the United States in this Pacific region. PRC will hate this alliance; but the investment mentioned above is the least cost to save the sustainable security.

One reminder; unique proposition is not created it is identified.

les said...

Even a dozen 'Taiwanese Mandelas' are useless if US mass media remains tied to the lies fed to it by State and Xinhua working in unison. You would have to succeed in creating a mass movement, too large to ignore, like Aquino's people power to change the rhetoric.

Unknown said...

Thanks for comment. It makes me feel at least we have a forming proposition ready to launch. This proposition in fact is the awareness of Taiwanese ourselves that the self-worth is given and now we are going to enjoy the basic right in front of the most civilized country- America.

Let me quote the first black American president Barack Obama, "I am an eternal optimist.’, but I am not a sap."

We need positive energy to start; and I am an optimist as well.

Who on the Earth except the United States of American will help us first? Her history has proven the possibility; and it is not without a cost.

I bet that we Taiwanese people is willing to pay also.

Unfortunately, we don't have one Mandela like's leader, at least no voice so far. We need self-confidence like him; and the voice to be heard.

David said...

The sooner Taiwanese stop waiting for some Christ-like figure to lead them to freedom and start relying upon themselves the better. What is needed is not a visionary leader but for the 23 million people of Taiwan to develop a consensus and work together for the nation's future. At present Taiwanese society is hopelessly divided, the media is dominated by pro-KMT and pro-CCP mouthpieces, the legislature is a joke, and so on. Taiwanese can't rely on outsiders or a single person to solve these problems, they have to do it themselves. This is the what democracy and sovereignty is about.

Unknown said...

“Practice only three days veg. and claim the biggest Budda” (Taiwanese Prob.) I am sick of the tone of using 23 million D and S. sanctimoniously to deny the positive initiatives without deliberate reasoning that the efforts proposed in fact are targeting at the same goals.

The formation of the effective leadership is just the basic move of a group; who dare to deny the importance of a visionary leader? Try Ma again in 2012, and see what happen.

Friend R. in Seattle with the group actively sending out letters to their representatives to explore the possible influence towards the most important alliance in the world for Taiwan; this kind of positive initiative is very inspiring!

I just wonder why negation is so strong towards new proposition which is the same strategy nevertheless more nuanced… This place is not for composition competition; think a bit positive better.

Readin said...

I believe the importance of the United States in Taiwan's democratic development and collapse often gets overlooked. Since the ROC fled to Taiwan, it has always relied on the U.S. militarily for survival. With the threats China makes toward Taiwan, this reliance by the ROC and Taiwan continue.

After the U.S. recognized China in the 1970s, authoritarian ROC needed a new reason to strengthen its case for help from the U.S.. Democratic reform became necessary (being one of the leaders of a one-party state is great until a neighbor knocks you off).

U.S. support for reform helped greatly as Taiwan developed. Clinton's support of Taiwan's elections were great and a boon for leaders who love Taiwan like Lee and Chen.

The GWB administration started off great with strong support for Taiwan. But apparantly Chen did something to greatly annoy the U.S. President. Things took a decided turn for the worse. Bush stopped strongly supporting Taiwan's democracy. It took sides against the reformers and even criticized Taiwan for holding a referendum (a non-binding one at that).

Obama has given little indication of changing course.