The right-wing; Chinese Nationalist Party or Kuomintang (KMT), has lost the parliamentary elections on the island of Taiwan. For the first time the liberals of the Democratic Progressive Party ( DPP ) take full control over the parliament. Although some will call this a victory for the progressive side of Taiwan, revolutionary socialists disagree. The DPP is not a leftist party, but a neoliberal party that promotes the same capitalist agenda as the Kuomintang. The difference only lies in the fact that the KMT is conservative and the DPP is more progressive on social issues. But when it comes to serving Taiwanese capitalism, the liberals are as right-wing as the American; Democratic Party!
Many workers on Taiwan had enough of the KMT, after years of conservative rule. However the massive victory of the DPP will not bring any genuine changes. It is true that the liberals portray themselves as progressives and social liberals, but the DPP lost the elections in 2004, 2008 and 2012, because the party was not able to recover after its leaders were involved in corruption scandals. This is not new to Taiwan, because politicians have always served the interests of the ruling class since the days of Chiang-Kai-Shek!
Originally, the Chinese Nationalist Party was leftist nationalist, anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist. Founded in 1911 after the fall of the Chinese Empire, the KMT based itself on the Three Principles of the People: Nationalism, Democracy and Socialism. However after the death of party founder Sun Yat-sen, the KMT abandoned socialism for capitalism. Under Chiang-Kai-Shek a civil war broke out between the new conservative leadership and communist party members!
After the end of the second world war, the civil war between communists and nationalists resumed. Dictator Chiang was forced to abandoned mainland China and fled to Taiwan were he remained president of the republic until he died in 1975. The Chinese Communist Party founded the People’s Republic of China, but was not recognized by the world community until Nixon’s visit to Beijing in 1971. Taiwan lost its status as the representative of the Chinese people!
The Republic of China on Taiwan was a dictatorial right-wing regime until 1991. Opposition to the nationalists was violently suppressed. With the help from the American CIA, the secret police arrested and tortured many intellectuals and leftist activists. The Democratic Progressive Party grew out of the liberal intellectual opposition to the conservative dictatorship. Although Taiwan called itself Free China, it was not a free nation until the KMT decided to abandoned the undemocratic; ”Temporary Provisions Effective During the Period of Communist Rebellion” which granted the nationalists authoritarian powers, in the name of fighting communism!
Although legalized after 1991, the Democratic Progressive Party would never win a majority in parliament. This was due to the fact that the media favored the KMT. Also the liberals were portrayed as ”communists” by the capitalist media and it was difficult to stand up to this anticommunist stigma, which ruled Taiwanese society since 1949. Because the DPP rejected Chinese nationalism, it was portrayed as a ”communist” organisation by the KMT owned media of Taiwan, which promoted conservatism and traditionalism!
Voter loyalism is also a reason why the Kuomintang was able to rule for so long. Like in South Korea, the conservative nationalists could play on traditionalism and loyalty. In many Asian nations it is very common for whole families to support one political party, pure out of loyalism. After the DPP won the elections in 2001, it promised major political changes. Chiang-Kai-Shek lost his status as great leader and was now criticized as a dictator. The KMT called this unacceptable, but was not able to reverse the official government line until they won back the presidency in 2008!
Chen Shui-bian was elected President of the Republic of China in 2000. Although his Democratic Progressive Party won the elections in 2001, the Kuomintang was able to form an alliance called the Pan-Blue Coalition with minor conservative and Chinese nationalist parties. This prevented a liberal majority and president Chen Shui-bian was faced with a parliament that blocked most of his proposals. The DPP was forced to search for allies, so they founded the Pan-Green Coalition with minor Taiwanese nationalist parties. In a way both the Pan-Blue and Pan-Green coalitions are nationalist. The KMT supports Chinese nationalism meaning reunification with the mainland, while the Pan-Green supports Taiwanese nationalism!
Conservatism and liberalism also play a role, as the KMT is conservative and the DPP is more liberal on social issues. The voters of the DPP are most working class Taiwanese, while the KMT draws support from business people, elderly and the more conservative elements of the ruling class. But this does not mean that the capitalists are not supportive of the liberals. During the years of president Chen Shui-bian there was capitalist support for the DPP. Even today in 2016, the victory of the liberals will not be seen as a danger to the might of the Taiwanese rich. The DPP is not a party that will hinder their capitalist greed and exploitation of workers!
What is different today is that the DPP won a full majority and this never happend before. Yes, the DPP won the 2001 elections, but thanks to the coalition allies of the KMT they were able to keep a conservative majority. Now the liberals hold the majority and because the presidential elections are held at the same time, it is clear the DPP win not only take the parliament, but also the presidency. This means the KMT has lost both centers of power, for the first time in the history of the Chinese Nationalist Party on Taiwan!
Tsai Ing-wen will become the next President of the Republic of China, she is a woman and leader of the DPP. As a woman and supporter of LGBT rights, it might be possible for Taiwan to introduce gay marriage, which was always prevented by the conservative Pan-Blue coalition. However revolutionary socialists do not think the Democratic Progressive Party will change anything fundamentally. They have already shown to be loyal to (neo)liberal austerity ideals and their president Chen Shui-bian was a typical capitalist leader!
A third reason can also be told why the KMT lost. In the last 10 years, both the Chinese ”Communist” Party (CCP) and Chinese Nationalist Party came more closer to each other. As the ex-maoists embraced state-capitalist and Chinese nationalism, they entered the ideological grounds of the Kuomintang. Ma Ying-jeou was the first KMT leader and president of Taiwan, who agreed on meeting the Chinese president and CCP party leader; Xi Jinping. Both presidents have shown to be friendly toward each other. Proofing that the ideological battle between CCP and KMT is over, but only because the CCP betrayed Marxism for state-capitalism and Chinese nationalism!
As the KMT grew more closer to the mainland, it started to promote also economic corporations. Meaning that Chinese businesses on the mainland are able to do business with Taiwanese. However there is a huge difference in the way both nation run their ecoonmy. On Taiwan workers are free to strike and therefore have higher wages. In China, workers are held as slaves and cannot strike for higher wages. Chinese products are way more cheaper then Taiwanese, this is also why opening the Taiwanese market was opposed by the DPP. Free trade between China and Taiwan will harm many Taiwanese enterprises, who will find it difficult to compete with the cheap products labeled; Made in China!
It is possible that many Taiwanese feared that their island would become part of the mighty Chinese economy. Which is partly true if the government of Taiwan opens its markets for Made in China products. Classic capitalism promotes free trade, but since Chinese enterprises profit from a dictatorial government, that keeps wages down and does not care about human lives, it would be very wrong for Taiwan to open its markets!
Revolutionary socialists call for the creation of a mass workers party on a socialist program. Unlike South Korea, Taiwan has legalized the formation of political parties on Marxist ideals. Many communist parties have been founded on the island, but none are revolutionary in nature. The Taiwan Communist Party is in fact a social democratic party, only named ”communist” to attract people. Others like the Communist Party of the Republic of China serve the ideals of the Chinese ”Communist” Party in Beijing!
Taiwan has huge potential to become a socialist republic, as its workers have the capacity to lead their nation win-out capitalists. A Socialist Republic of Taiwan would show the Chinese workers in the PRC, what true socialism looks like. It could lead to a mass revolt against the state-capitalist CCP and a victorious socialist revolution on the mainland!