Sunday, March 23, 2008

CHANGE proved irresistible in 2008 Taiwan Presidential Election

2008 Taiwan (Republic of China) presidential election was held on Saturday, March 22. KMT (Kuo-Ming, i.e., the Nationalist Party) candidate Ma Ying-Jeou won a land-slide victory, 58.45% vs. 41.55%, over the DPP (Democratic Progressive Party) candidate Hsieh Chang-Ting. The total number of votes cast was over 13 millions that translates to about 75% of over 17 millions eligible voters. This is the 4th direct election of president by popular votes in the island since 1996. KMT won back the presidency from DPP after Chen Shui-Bian (A-Bian)’s two problematic terms in a semi-presidential government system (for a brief discussion of it, see my Jan 17 blog).

Not dissimilar to U.S. political landscape, the two leading parties KMT and DPP do each own about 35% staunch supporters who appear to vote by party line no matter what and who. Over the decade, there are also the notion of “blue counties” and “green counties” from past voting records. What was surprising to almost all by this election is the size of the victory: out of the 25 counties/cities including the largest cities Taipei (capital) and Kaohsiung, DPP’s Hsieh won only 5 “green counties” with slim and single digit margins except for a ~12% margin at the president A-Bian’s home county. One can easily deduce that the 30% independent centrists swing voters had come to a conclusion after 8 years and spoken overwhelmingly in 3 to 1 their disappointments and disapprovals with the DPP’s government.

I am excited and encouraged to hear this news and election result. It is not so much about who I thought would be a better choice for the president. It is the first confirmation and confidence to the people of Taiwan who should be proud of their active and rational participation in Taiwan’s democratic movement. They have send a loud and clear message to those who are aspired to politics and public service and to the political parties that are aspired to represent and serve the people: one must place the interest and welfare of the people first and one will be replaced if one does not perform.

There are countless spins and analyses before and after the elections in whole spectrum. At the end of the day though, what people (universally) want are simple and obvious: a secure, stable and prosperous environment; a transparent, open, and just process; fellow citizens who respect each other; and to have equal opportunity to participate in the system and achieve their goals.

For KMT and its allies, it is time to go back to real and hard work. Demonstrate your commitment to change and earn your keep: take the lead and fix the constitutions and judicial system, implement effective economic policies, and most importantly take the responsibilities and do your job! Remember: you don’t have any excuses any more – you have control of both the executive and legislative branches. By the way, in case you forgot, the next election for the mayors and county executives is 18 months away.

For DPP and its allies, this is the best thing that can happen to you. It is time to move on and grow up - you won’t last by standing on your opponents’ failures and baggage. Leave the past narrow-minded divisive ideology behind. Create a broader and inclusive vision. Rebuild your core values. Attract talents and nurture future leaders to earn your place in government and history again.

Talk to you soon!

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