|Leveling the playing field|
Any great defender of democracy will tell you that
margins are unimportant in an election - 50.5% of the population can enslave
the other because they are technically the majority - but pragmatics come into
play in the real world.
Taiwan's president Chen
Shui-bian's was re-elected by the slimmest of margins (less than 0.5% of the
population). In mature democracies like the USA, such a result would simply go
through the motions of arguing about dangling chaff and pregnant punched cards
before being settled by a stacked Supreme Court along appointed party
lines. However the situation in Taiwan is a little different.
Firstly, Taiwan is a new democracy - punch-ups in the Parliament are not
uncommon, and democratic changes to the constitution are still
underway. Secondly, most nations don't recognize them as a country at all -
particularly China who wants to reabsorb the breakaway nation into The People's Democratic Paradise
Collective. Thirdly, the president survived an apparent assassination
attempt the day before the election.
It is not clear whether the incumbent President would have won the election had
he not been shot, but the reality is that it does nothing to strengthen his
mandate in the twisted views of Chinese government officials. Previously
the president has been accused of 'abusing democracy' to promote his
pro-independence views. Apparently 'abusing democracy' means listening to
what people the public want instead of telling them what they want.
They can now promote the view that he was not elected on a level playing
field, that most Taiwanese don't want to move towards independence, and that a
Chinese invasion will truly enforce the will of the people. Bent logic to most
totally reasonable by the twisted standards of the Ministry of Misinformation
in the People Paradise Collective.
Already there are angry protests in Taiwan by opposition supporters demanding a
recount, and your ABC reports that
Chinese officials are keeping silent about a report in the influential South
China Morning Post that the People's Liberation Army has been put on combat
alert to strike Taiwan if the island's election dispute intensifies.
The report is doubtless exaggerated, but it is still very worrying.
Three years ago, the US was gearing up for a war with China over Taiwan, but
the War on Terror has taken its toll. Dubya has now realized that keeping the
war machine oiled by a petulant
Middle East would be a hard thing to do, and he has been talking a more
conciliatory tone. And in fairness, so have the Chinese.
Peace can normally be ensured by rational entities by being able to predict the
actions of the opposition, and controlling their own actions accordingly.
Assassinations are disturbing because they change power structures very
quickly, and cause sudden and unpredictable political shifts. Assassinations
are the kind of things that trigger world wars.
These times are not just interesting - they are downright dangerous.