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On Democracy and the Occupation of the Taiwan Legislature
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With regard to the occupation of the Taiwan legislature and, in particular, the DPP’s determination to sidetrack the democratic process when the numbers were not in its favor on its pet issues, I was the recipient of some indignant feedback along the lines of Gandhi, MLK, etc. i.e. on issues of moral imperatives you gotta do what’s right, not just count the votes.

Color me unconvinced. The big existential issue is reunification with the mainland.  That ship has sailed.  96% of the population regards itself as Taiwanese.  60% oppose reunification, outnumbering proponents of reunification 3:1.  The ROC is de facto independent.  After 30+ years of elected governments, no political party is going to be able to impose reunification on Taiwan.  If the KMT tries, the entire population of Taiwan is welcome to hit the bricks, with my blessing.

With reunification off the table, the key issue is whether Taiwan should tilt toward or away from the mainland economically.  That’s a question for the voters to decide, not the DPP caucus strategists and the indignant multitudes.  The presidential election in January 2016 beckons to voters who believe that the KMT’s outreach to the mainland on cross-strait service trade should be reversed.

But if the KMT is screwed up six ways from sideways and feels obliged to cave to the demonstrators, be my guest.  This will simply confirm the dysfunctional character of Taiwan politics (remember the fits the pan-Blues gave Chen Shuibian?) and incentivize the KMT to play similar tricks if Su Tseng-chang becomes president. 

The DPP leadership probably feels that partisan rancor enhances polarization, will condition the people to give up on any consensus-based, KMT-mediated accommodation with the mainland, and further reconcile Taiwanese to the risky alternative of de jure independence.  Time and demographics, together with DPP militancy, are whittling away at Taiwan’s emotional links to the mainland.  Polarization is ugly, but it’s good politics for the DPP and its independence agenda, so I don’t expect it’s going to disappear.

The one remaining existential issue that remains in Taiwanese politics is strictly in the hands of the DPP and the Green coalition: de jure independence.  If properly done, this would involve a constitutional convention to define and reaffirm the basis of Taiwanese sovereignty, with lots of democratic voting for delegates to the convention and votes on the new constitution itself, and I find it interesting that the new student demand is, indeed, for a constitutional convention.  Of course, that’s not to say Taiwanese independence won’t turn out to be a quick and dirty legalistic train wreck shoved through by the DPP along the lines of Kosovo or Crimea, but I hope it isn’t.

Taiwanese democracy is good but (to further editorialize here) the practice of Taiwanese democracy looks pretty craptacular.  It’s probably better to recognize and encourage the good thing—lots of people voting—and less of the bad thing—people using the justification of moral imperative to block democratic processes in order to advance narrow political and tactical agendas.

(Republished from China Matters by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: DPP, KMT, Sunflower Movement, Taiwan 
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