There have been lots of complaints around the web and in the media that the name changes have come too late, that they should have happened earlier, that it is all for the next election….

How come the Chen Administration didn’t change the names back in 2000 when they were first elected? It’s hard now to recall those heady days, but let me point out a few things:

– Chen had no confidence he’d win another election — he’d only received 39% of the vote. It is pointless to change names that will only be changed back when the new administration came in. The current wave shows the DPP’s growing confidence, openly expressed by Chen in an interview yesterday, that they have the advantage in ‘08 and the name changes will be permanent.

– the first Premier was Tang Fei, a Blue.

– the Administration was under fire for its decision to shut down the nuclear plant.

– the Administration had no experience of national government and was still feeling its way through the issues.

– Oh yeah, it was facing a recall vote at that time too. Remember? Every time Chen has tried to do something, the Blue team has attempted to have him recalled.

– Chen had received a huge dose of support as Taipei mayor from people hoping for energetic and efficient administration, which he delivered, in spades. In 2000 there was probably still the belief that there were “moderate voters” or “swing voters” who would go over to the Greens if the DPP moved cautiously. Over time — and particular during the 2004 presidential election — both parties have realized that the electorate is polarized into three groups, Blues, Greens, and non-voters who have declared a plague on both houses, but who are more likely to be disaffected Greens. Chen need no longer please “moderates” since they are few and far between.

– there was still some lingering fear China would do something.

No doubt the name changes were withheld for election purposes. Guess what: the DPP has to win elections; it is a political party. Can anyone describe a scenario in which the name changes could be made and (1) not be seen as political and (2) not fall near an election? If the DPP can leverage this into election victory, more power to ‘em.