While the Lim versus Huang “to work with the DPP or not work the DPP” issue is the most publicly cited reason for the party’s struggle, there were other struggles for power going on behind the scenes which have not yet come to light and may not even be fully resolved yet. Like most political parties in Taiwan, the NPP has always had variations in opinion among party leaders. Although the party’s infighting became public about a year ago, the internal problems within the party date back to its formation. This makes it difficult to pinpoint a single variable explaining why the NPP has gone the direction it has.
Since its summer shakeup, the NPP has done all it can to consolidate its support. Today, the party still has five candidates running and a 12-person party-list. Huang Kuo-chang is not running for reelection in his district of Xizhi, but is instead #4 on the NPP party-list. The party has not yet endorsed Tsai for president and has decided not to work with the DPP — the exact opposite strategy it utilized in 2016. Ironically, Fan Yun (范雲), founder of the Social Democratic Party, who originally did not want to endorse the DPP in 2016, is now on the DPP’s party list. These two third force parties have effectively switched strategies.
Although many assume that the NPP’s declining support must all be flocking to the newly formed Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) of Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), far more NPP supporters are instead planning to send their votes to the DPP. The NPP and TPP are ideologically very far apart. The NPP was founded as being openly pro-independence and pro-progressive values. Those who voted for the NPP in the last election because of their political stances are more likely to vote for the DPP rather than the TPP, which is neither pro-independence nor socially progressive.
The DPP has, rather miraculously, capitalized off the NPP’s decline. By recruiting figures like Sunflower Movement activist leader Lin Fei-fan (林飛帆), Sunflower activist Lai Pin-yu (賴品妤) and the Taiwan Statebuilding Party’s Chen Po-wei (陳柏偉), the DPP has replaced the NPP as the party activists are most likely to support. Those who voted for the NPP purely because they are a third party may be attracted to Ko’s TPP, but considering their base of support comes from activists who are highly critical of Ko, this number of pure protest voters is likely to be low.
Realistically, the NPP will not disappear after the 2020 election, even if they are completely unsuccessful. They still have a base of support, registered party members, and 16 city councilors across the island. Polls vary, but after releasing their party list, they are still likely to get two members from proportional representation. Depending on how the party performs electorally, they will inevitably face a tough four years of consolidation and reflection as they plan their future strategy.
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