A total of 20,933 people have registered to run for 11,047 local government posts in the year-end elections. Though “local” by name, the elections are widely seen as a a precursor to the 2020 presidential and legislative elections.
Even though some see the local government elections as a mid-term test of President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) job performance evaluation, local politicians’ guanxi — personal connections — will play a bigger role in deciding who wins and who loses the local ballots.
The opposition Kuomintang (KMT), which was trounced in the 2016 central government elections, is focusing its policy proposals on air pollution and cross-Taiwan Strait relations, which are weak.
Why? Because air pollution is a price all countries must pay to develop their economies. The problem will still be there if the KMT is in power. So trying to attract voters on the back of the air pollution issue is not a great idea.
The whole world knows that China’s bullying is the main reason behind the worsening relations across the Taiwan Strait. If the KMT keeps putting the blame on the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) alone, it will have trouble convincing voters. Worse, it can be seen as subservient, a dotard and weak-kneed.
On this issue, Tsai has never done anything to break the status quo across the strait and has had to work very hard to stave off pressure from the diehard faction within the DPP. Taiwan’s major democratic “allies” — the United States, the European Union, Japan and Australia — therefore sympathize with Tsai.
The KMT’s giving up on the “respective interpretations” aspect of the “1992 consensus” and focusing instead on its “one China” component are looked upon as an apparent capitulation to China.
And people know very well that it was the KMT and former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) who broke the cross-strait status quo. KMT candidates in the Nov. 24 elections are unable to put forth any new ideas about the “1992 consensus” — a term Beijing had to strain itself to accept because its purpose is “one China” instead of “1992 consensus.”
Beijing has been hoping that it can hop beyond the “1992 consensus” into advocacy of “one China.” By refusing to acknowledge the “1992 consensus,” the Tsai administration is actually lengthening the life of the “1992 consensus” and obstructing China’s political agenda to unify Taiwan.
Once Taiwan acknowledges the “1992 consensus,” Beijing will then move on to its next step — forcing Taiwan to accept its “one China” principle (that there is only one China, to which both Taiwan and China belong, so that China and Taiwan is an integral part of China).
As the “1992 consensus” card is highly risky for the KMT, so is the DPP’s pursuit of pension reforms.
Although Tsai’s pension reform plan enjoys the support of more than half of the respondents in the latest survey, that has not turned into voter support for the DPP because it was handled in a rough way, triggering widespread protests.
We would like to recommend that both parties put forth new, weighty campaign platforms that meet local voters’ needs. For the central government, what will attract voter support is improved economy, particularly policy proposals concerning industrial development and employment.
Also, the Tsai government should not forget that it is pushing hard judicial reforms. It should learn from how a roughshod pushing of its pension reform program has alienated it from the general public.
By setting the right priorities, lowering expectations and trying to finish the job in stages, the government might be able to minimize the reform’s impact and turn it into a vote-getting campaign promise. (Editorial abstract — Sept. 2, 2018)