On Tuesday, January 2007, Chou Yung-Hang (周永鴻) who is the deputy director of the Democratic Progressive Party‘s department of youth development published an opinion piece titled “Opposition obstructs democracy” in Taipei Times (publish by Liberty Times group/自由時報). Chou Yung-Hang blame the opposition parties for Taiwan being label as a “flawed democracy” by the Economist Intelligence Unit‘s Index of Democracy. His evidence of this was Taiwan scored particularly low in the “[democratic] political culture” category of the Index because the pan-blue camp (Kuomintang (KMT or 國民黨) and its collaborators) opposition parties. he wrote
“The EIU has adopted a simple and direct definition of political culture: “A successful democratic political culture means that the losing parties and their supporters accept the judgment of the voters and allow for the peaceful transfer of power.””
after establishing what constitute sound democratic political culture Chou Yung-Hang moves in to smear the opposition,
“Judging by this simple definition, we can easily see that the KMT’s obstructionism — be it in the legislature or the streets, in Taiwan or in China — is the manifestation of a party unwilling to accept the fact that the DPP is in power.”
Is he trying to imply that opposition parties criticizing the government in the legislative is undemocratic? or protesting in street demonstrations against the government are undemocratic? This kind of disinformation is specially cynical when the president’s family is indited for embezzlement and somehow we should not be criticizing…
Moving on to problems with his use of Index of Democracy.
First in his quote, ht mistakenly wrote use the word “means” which was really “implies” in source he cited. At best this is sloppiness on his part and on the editor of Taipei Times’s opinion editor who should have prove read this article. To some people this is nothing to cry about, but professional journalist should know the difference between the two words.
Second, He fail to report that the definition he cited is misleading, considering the the model questions used by EIU to determine democratic political culture might have very little to do with oppositions attitude towards transfer of power.
here are all eight questions in the model used to determine democratic political culture
(Question 36 is the first of the questions under democratic political culture)
36. Is there a sufficient degree of societal consensus and cohesion to underpin a stable, functioning democracy?
37. Perceptions of leadership; proportion of the population that desires a strong leader who bypasses parliament and elections.
38. Perceptions of military rule; proportion of the population that would prefer military.
39. Perceptions of rule by experts or technocratic government; proportion of the population that would prefer rule by experts or technocrats.
40. Perception of democracy and public order; proportion of the population that believes that democracies are not good at maintaining public order.
41. Perception of democracy and the economic system; proportion of the population that believes that democracy benefits
42. Degree of popular support for democracy.
43. There is a strong tradition of the separation of church and state.
As the reader can see “transfer of power” is not explicitly mention in democratic political culture session of the model, but it did appeared in the “Electoral process and pluralism” session as cited below,
8. Following elections, are the constitutional mechanisms for the orderly transfer of power from one government to another clear, established and accepted?
This report is at best sloppy, at best dishonest partisan propaganda design to smear governments critics, exactly the kind of things that undermine Taiwan’s democratic political culture. Both Chou Yung-Hong and Taipei Times’s opinion editor should be shameful for publishing this class A disinformation.