I have scan the web for sound analysis of Taiwan’s recent election, but the Economist was the best i seen so far.
If only the Economist did not endorse George Bush in 2000 and advocate for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, I would have had more praises for the mostly excellent weekly.
Scion of a KMT family, Harvard-educated lawyer and a former mayor of Taipei, Mr Ma, 57, had always been marked for the highest office, and the KMT’s famously ruthless machine did everything to get him there. Yet more than anything, he was helped by the DPP. Mr Chen had won the presidency in 2000 by articulating the grievances of native Taiwanese whose voices had long been stifled by the KMT, a party historically dominated by mainlanders who had fought—and eventually lost—the civil war with the Chinese Communists. Mr Chen emphasised a new Taiwanese identity.
Yet Mr Chen soon appeared to insist on this identity at the expense of anything else. His agitation for formal Taiwanese independence riled not just China, but the United States, Taiwan’s protector. Under Mr Chen, economic initiatives always seemed to play second fiddle, and even then, DPP forces sounded discordant. Charges of corruption spread to Mr Chen’s family and close circle, which in the campaign did Mr Hsieh no favours.
The DPP’s mudslinging during the presidential election seemed to be final confirmation that the DPP, once a beacon of change and moral authority, had lost its way. Even in the DPP stronghold in the southern part of the island, Mr Ma made stunning headway, winning the city of Kaohsiung, Mr Hsieh’s political base. Perhaps Mr Chen, in one respect, had done too well in his fight for a Taiwanese identity. For while the DPP played up the politics of ethnic division between mainlanders and islanders—insinuating that Mr Ma would sell Taiwan out to China—the KMT’s candidate showed that it was possible to campaign as if the divisions had been healed: we are all Taiwanese now.