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Why did the KMT fail? 2014-12-07 오후 6:19:00


Last weekend, a sensational change was about to occur in Taiwan: voting started. As the results of the vote started trickling in during the evening, it soon became clear that the political scene in Taiwan was about to become a much different place. The results appeared to be shocking; when the results were out, the Kuomintang (KMT) party just won six of the 22 constituencies in the mayoral and commissioner elections, while the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won 13 in a landslide and by quite a margin of 20%. What’s more, the KMT lost in the capital city it had won for 16 consecutive years, and lost other cities in the Northern part of Taiwan such as Hsinchu and Taoyuan. The overall result was decimating; the KMT had to give 9 out of 15 spots that they used to have to the DPP. As a result, many leaders of the cabinet and the KMT party took of their jackets and resigned.
Now, what could the reason of this landslide of the DPP and the defeat of the KMT be?
To eliminate bias, it is known that around 6.85 to 7 million, a small portion of voters voted the DPP party because their ideological beliefs were similar. So, this could not explicate for the defeat. Discontentment with the KMT is another factor. Unfortunately, discontent with the KMT is not a reason for the landslide victory; to account for the landslide as simple as that would be to undermine the works of the DPP party.
What else could it be then?
A possible reason might be hubris and arrogance. In many constituencies, including Taipei, the KMT ran lazy campaigns and spent more time attacking its opponents than trying to convince voters of the virtues of its own candidates. Thus, the technique of mudslinging had failed to appeal to the people.
Yet, if we look at internal factors, we can deduce other reasons: the KMT fell out of favor. Taiwan had cooperated with China to revive its economy and to bring peace, but the promised "revival" of Taiwan's stagnating economy never materialized. But, where did the profits from the seemingly successful agreements go? Unfortunately, it went to the pockets of the administrators and those who were close to them. It is even more unfortunate that the majority’s future seems abject. Many voters perpetually complained about this, and the KMT failed to listen to the people’s voices at the expense of improved relationships. Undeniably, relations between the two sides have improved since 2008, but many have become increasingly aware of the inherent political risks of doing so.
Taiwanese of all stripes know that Beijing continues to regard Taiwan as a "renegade province," but many were nevertheless willing to liberalize ties with it, though many faulted Ma for not paying enough attention to safeguarding the island's sovereignty and democracy in the process. To further aggravate the situation, local problems piled up to the external factors.
Another crucial factor is the DPP’s tactics. The DPP party intentionally chose the right candidates for the right generation. For example, the DPP chose Ko Wen-je, who had great appeal with the Sunflower generation (people born after 1989) in Taipei. Also, the DPP astutely chose the candidates in each city: for KMT candidates who were to be elected for sure, the DPP put weak, young candidates who were virtually unknown of to raise awareness of the future. The election results will undoubtedly be more attuned to civil society, and the KMT’s control of a majority of the municipalities across Taiwan will make it more difficult for the central government to implement policies that the public opposes. Ironically, the government has ignored the public’s voices repeatedly since the beginning of 2012. Newly elected mayor Ko has already said he would fire the police chief in Xinyi District if pro-Beijing activists continued to physically assault practitioners of Falun Gong, a spiritual movement banned in China, and pro-Taiwan independence activists outside the Taipei 101 skyscraper. Confronting greater resistance from the citizens and confronted to an emboldened pan-green coalition, Ma's ability to press ahead with further unpopular agreements with China likely has been severely compromised. With a little more than a year left in office, he may have reached the limit of what he can give to Beijing, even more so if he steps down as party chairman, which will be decided on Wednesday. There is no doubt that civil society punished the KMT in the elections, and the people had gained its victory.
Unless the KMT wants to go through a similar embarrassment in the 2016 presidential election, whoever is in charge will have to ensure that the party better reflects public wishes, which includes being more careful with China.
I will end with one implication that everyone should think about: will Korea undergo the same changes?

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중국 천진 tis 국제학교
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