Taiwan Journal hosts a commentary by David Lorenzo of Virginia Wesleyan on how the election confirms Taiwan’s maturing democracy. This article describes what has become the new, and very widespread CW:

Taiwan’s recent presidential election did more than just determine the future of its executive branch and signal future directions in policy with China. It also underlined the growth and maturation of Taiwan’s democracy and revealed important aspects of Taiwan’s democratic conception.

Why are we so mature? Lorenzo follows the CW in saying that it shows that Taiwanese are willing to throw leaders out when things go wrong:

This formula appears to be the concept of democracy people on Taiwan embrace: democracy is the election of leaders who make policy decisions. Leaders are then held accountable for their policies and re-elected if successful and voted out of office if they fail.

Bracketing discussion of the Presidential level, let’s look at the legislature. Are people willing to toss out the leaders? Clearly not — the KMT and its allied parties have controlled the legislature after each and every election since the KMT set up its government-in-exile here in 1949. At the local level, the town councils are overwhelmingly KMT, and the township and village chiefs, and the neighborhood and precinct captains, are also overwhelmingly KMT. At those separate levels, it has basically been that way since the KMT set up its government in exile here. Are the people willing to “throw the bastards out?” Nope. Lorenzo’s claim that Taiwanese hold politicians accountable for their policies is unsupportable — the KMT and its allies have been a disaster for the last eight years in the legislature, but they were voted in by a comfortable margin in the most recent election.

The apparent exceptions to the unwillingness of the people to remove one party when it is a failure were the two presidential elections of 2000 and 2004, and the county chief elections, where DPP and KMT politicians have traded places several times in several counties.

Looking at the level of presidential elections, was the public really willing to “throw the bastards out?” In 2000 over 60% of the populace voted Blue — Chen got elected by a minority. The 2004 election represents the only major election in which Greens outpolled Blues — and if the KMT had run Ma in ‘04, they probably would have won then too. So stupid was the choice of Lien Chan that I have a good friend who argues the KMT lost the election on purpose so that it could complete a thorough discrediting and crushing of the DPP.

In other words, if you step past the rhetoric and look at history, there is little or no support for the CW claim that the public judges on policies and is willing to toss politicians out when they don’t perform on policy….

The opposite of this is also true: successful policy implementation should result in increased prospects for electoral success, but that is not the case here in Taiwan. Consider — after Chen Shui-bian cleaned up Taipei and made it into the city it is today, he was immediately tossed out for an unproven KMT politician with no experience of local government. Similarly the DPP’s Chen Chu won Kaohsiung by a razor thin margin in the last election even though the previous DPP mayor, Frank Hsieh, had done a fantastic job.

And do you agree with this statement below? With Ma soon to be in power?

A maturing democracy does not entail the perfection of the political system, but this election demonstrates that Taiwan’s democratic system has a secure and bright future.

I sure hope so….