Archive for April, 2010

KMT telephone survey results

April 26, 2010

The KMT finished its telephone surveys for the Taipei City,  Tainan City, and Kaohsiung City mayoral nominations last week.  They did not release the numbers, but here are the general results.

Hao Longbin 郝龍斌 won in Taipei City and will be nominated soon.  This surprises no one.

In Tainan City Guo Tiancai 郭添財 beat Li Quanjiao 李全教, but only by about 3%.  Xie Longjie 謝龍介 was a distant third.  Since this is so close, the KMT will try to negotiate a compromise between the two leaders.  If the negotiations yield no results, it may try another round of surveys with just these two candidates.

In Kaohsiung, Huang Zhaoshun 黃昭順 won.  Lin Yishi 林益世 trailed by about 5%, and Su Yinggui 蘇盈貴 was third.  The KMT will try negotiations or a second round among the top three.

So Tainan and Kaohsiung remain unresolved.

To me, the most interesting comment was from one of the losers in Kaohsiung.  Hou Caifeng 侯彩鳳 remarked that the results were basically what she expected.  After all, Huang is the only candidate who is actively campaigning.  Which makes me ask: Why?  Why aren’t any of the others campaigning?  The DPP candidates are trying like hell, and have been doing so for several months.  In contrast, two of the KMT candidates only announced they would run a week or two before the surveys, and Lai Fengwei 賴峰偉 even announced his candidacy while he was in Penghu.  Of course there are close ties between Penghu and Kaohsiung, but he couldn’t even be bothered to travel to Kaohsiung?  Why didn’t the KMT candidates (other than Huang) exert any effort?

KMT links mayoral and city council campaigns

April 26, 2010

Several days ago the KMT announced that it would require all its candidates for city councils to coordinate campaign materials with the mayoral campaigns.  The most noticeable result should be that there will be two people in every photo in direct mail, billboards, and other campaign advertisements.  I’m not sure if the KMT will require them to coordinate slogans, policy positions, campaign events, TV commercials, and so on.

From my standpoint as a SNTV nerd, this might be the most interesting development in Taiwanese elections in quite a long time.  (For those of you who aren’t electoral systems specialists, SNTV (single non-transferable vote) is the electoral system used in city council elections.  It was used in legislative elections until 2004.  SNTV features multi-member districts — more than one person is elected from each district — and each voter only casts one vote for a single individual.)  When I was first exposed to Taiwanese elections, I used to always wonder why DPP candidates always prominently displayed their party logo while KMT candidates rarely did.  I assumed that being identified as a KMT nominee must be a bad thing, probably because the party’s image had been sullied by years of corruption, the authoritarian era,  and all the baggage that comes from several decades in power.    I also assumed that this was an indication that the KMT was incapable of operating as a unified team.  Since the KMT was ridden with factions both at the national and local levels, the KMT party logo was simply not a useful device to ask voters for support.  Then, when the DPP and New Party started running unified campaigns in the mid- and late-1990s, I was rather confirmed in these thoughts.  Now those were unified parties.

As you might infer from the tone of the previous paragraph, I have exchanged those ideas for a set almost diametrically opposed.  The fact that KMT candidates in SNTV elections do not usually display their party identity is a triumph for the party.  DPP logos, likewise, are a sign of weakness.

Getting people who are already predisposed to your party to actually vote for your party is not much of an accomplishment.  The real challenge is to convince people who don’t care much for your party to vote for your party’s candidates.  Going back to the beginning of the Dangwai era over 30 years ago, the KMT has consistently been able to get more votes in SNTV elections than in one-on-one executive elections.  There are lots of possible reasons for this.  The KMT has been able to recruit more quality candidates.  The KMT candidates are better at doing constituency service.  KMT candidates have talked more about local matters and other things unrelated to national politics.  The KMT buys votes.  And so on.  However, in multi-member SNTV districts, the KMT has usually gotten a higher vote share than in straight party to party contests.  Likewise, the DPP has done worse.  This gap narrowed in Legislative Elections through the 1990s, and in the 2001 and 2004 elections was basically gone.  However, in lower level elections this gap has been enormous.  In the early 1990s, it was not unusual for the DPP to have a credible shot at winning a county executive seat in a county that it could only win 3 or 4 county assembly seats.  While the DPP has gradually raised its share of these local seats, it still wins far too few, given its vote share in national level party to party contests.  In short, while the DPP has not even been able to win all the votes of people who would generally support it, the KMT has not only been able to defend its vote share, it has also won the votes of people who don’t generally support it.

So now the KMT has decided to link its mayor and city council candidates together as tightly as possible.  They are hoping that this will pull up their Tainan and Kaohsiung mayoral candidates.  One of the Tainan mayoral candidates even said that he thinks this strategy will raise his vote share by 6-8%.  I think this is mistaken.  I do not think that people will vote for a mayoral candidate (identified very closely with the national party and national party cleavages) just because they like that party’s local city council candidate.  Just because you think your local KMT council member is good at getting local pork, because he is your mother’s brother’s friend’s boss’s golfing partner, because you know him from school or whatever does not make you likely to change your opinions on the broad national questions critical to support for a political party.  If the candidate who you know and like in spite of his party is packaged with the mayoral candidate who you don’t know personally (and you still don’t like his party), you are probably more likely to reject both of them than to accept both of them.  After all, what you are doing is emphasizing the part of the city council candidate’s background (his party affiliation) that many voters do not like.  The KMT would be better off trying to hide this, which is exactly why KMT candidates have not put their party logo on their campaign materials.  In other words, instead up lifting the KMT’s unpopular mayoral candidates up, I think the KMT will pull down its popular city council candidates.

The DPP is in exactly the opposite situation.  It would reap major gains in city councils if only it could convince all the voters who lean Green to actually vote for DPP city council candidates.  The DPP city council candidates would love to turn their election into a straight party contest.

(By the way, when I talk about people supporting or not supporting a party here, I am talking in a very loose sense.  I do not mean party identifiers or hard-core supporters.  Rather, I’m talking about the preferences revealed when you force voters to choose between the parties, as in a presidential election or the party list section of the new legislative electoral system.  Voters may not prefer one side over the other by very much, but they end up making a choice.  Even if the preference for one party is not very strong, that means they have (slightly) less reason to support candidates from the other party.)

Let’s look at how this might turn out in Greater Tainan.  In 2005, the city and county assembly election results were as follows:

votes Vote % seats 2008 party list vote
Tainan County
Total 530931
Blue Camp 173323 33 19 42
Green Camp 143934 27 10 54
Independents 211428 40 21 4
Tainan City
Total 323905
Blue Camp 116041 36 18 48
Green Camp 119190 37 14 50
Independents 88674 27 9 2

Ok, so I forgot that Independents have been eating into the KMT’s dominance in several counties.  It’s less important than it looks, because the overwhelming majority of independents end up cooperating much more closely with the KMT than with the DPP.  (This is why one of Frozen Garlic’s most important rules is always look at the DPP/Green camp first.  The KMT/Blue Camp totals can be misleading if there are strong independents in the race.)

By the way, the Blue and Green Camps in Tainan are almost entirely the two big parties.  There were a total of six PFP and TSU candidates.

Look at these results from the DPP point of view.  These elections are a disaster.  In Tainan, the DPP is the majority party.  Even in 2008, when DPP popularity was at its nadir, the DPP still won a majority of the party list votes in Tainan.  However, they lost half this support in Tainan County and a quarter of their support in Tainan City.  (Historically, this is fantastic for the DPP – they used to do far worse!)  (The DPP was also lousy at turning their votes into seats.  Their seat share is less than their vote share in both places.  However, that is a different essay.)  Would the DPP candidates love to turn these elections into a straight party fight?  You betcha!

What about the KMT?  It is tempting to conclude that the KMT candidates would do better with a party-dominated election.  They could take back all those votes that the independents have stolen away.  To some extent, this may be their calculus.  However, remember that the KMT is highly unlikely to be as popular in 2010 as it was in 2008.  Right now, I think the possible KMT nominees all look like 35% candidates.  I’d be very impressed if any of them broke 40%.  So even if the KMT grabbed a huge chunk of its support back from the independents, it would likely still be splitting a smaller pie among its own candidates if it had to divide the mayoral votes among it and (most of) the independent candidates.

The KMT would also be messing up years of carefully constructed support constituencies.  Lots of KMT candidates have spent years cultivating voters who are ambivalent about the KMT.  However, perhaps the worst affected would be the solid, true-blue KMT city council members.  In the past, they could show off their position and appeal to the hard-core KMT supporters by running party-dominated campaign ads.  Now everyone will have party-dominated campaign materials.

KMT rules for City Council nominations

April 18, 2010

On Monday (yes, I’m a bit behind), the KMT announced its rules for city council nominations.  There are four interesting aspects.  First, they will use a three-step process.  Nominations will be announced on June 23, July 7, and July 21.   The local party branch in each of the direct municipalities can choose whichever of these dates works best for them.  Second, each local party branch can choose whether or not to give new candidates a bonus in the poll scores.  Currently, it looks like only Taipei City will choose to give the new faces a boost.  This probably has something to do with the fact that there are too many incumbents in all the other cities.  Third, the registration fee is NT300,000 (about USD 10,000).  By contrast, the DPP charges its candidates NT 2,000,000.

Fourth, and most interesting, the KMT has decided that if at least half of the candidates agree, the party will use surveys as the deciding factor in nominations.  Otherwise, they will also use a vote of party members.  To me, this is an invitation for candidates who think they can win a survey to register fake candidates solely for the purpose of voting to have nominations decided by surveys.  If this sounds too manipulative and you are sure that the KMT would step in and disallow it, remember that the KMT disqualified Fu Kunqi 傅崑萁from running for its nomination for Hualian County Executive last year.  In response, Fu threw his support to a very weak candidate who he thought he could defeat in the general election.  Did the KMT stop that?  On the other hand, the KMT might be happy to see everything decided by surveys.  Perhaps the party leaders see this as an attack on factional politics.


April 15, 2010

Yesterday I noted that 24 of the 33 DPP had signed a resolution in support of Cai Yingwen’s 蔡英文 re-election as party chair.  I now have to update this: all 33 have signed.  Even Cai Tongrong 蔡同榮, who accompanied You Qing 尤清 to register for party chair, has signed (he was the last holdout).   I didn’t expect You to really threaten Cai’s re-election bid, but this show of power is impressive.

I think Ke Jianming 柯建銘 gets the credit for building this coalition.  Ke has been in the legislature since 1992.  The DPP changes its caucus leaders regularly, but they keep coming back to Ke.  I think he must be better than anyone else at building coalitions.  There are a few other people who keep popping up in these positions, such as Cai Huanglang 蔡煌郎 and Cai Tongrong, but Ke is the most common.

It is interesting that Cai Tongrong eventually signed the statement.  I think that might have something to do with maintaining his influence in the legislature.  You can’t be a caucus leader, official or unofficial, if you are out of step with the rest of the caucus.

Grandparents don’t like Cai

April 14, 2010

The DPP chair race between Cai Yingwen 蔡英文 and You Qing 尤清 is being presented as the “Grandpa and Grandma Faction” 公媽派 (supporting You) against everyone else.  In other words, only the old people (and Taiwan independence fundamentalists) in the DPP are opposing Cai.  I’m not sure whether the media invented this term or if it comes from Cai supporters.  Either way, it is brilliant in marginalizing the challengers to Cai.

Today, most of the DPP legislators signed a statement in support of Cai.  At the time of the report I read, 24 (of 33) had signed.   The holdouts included Cai Tongrong 蔡同榮, Wang Xingnan 王幸男, and Guo Wencheng郭玟成.  I don’t know much about Guo, but Cai (a longtime overseas independence activist) and Wang (who once tried to assassinate Chiang Chingkuo) are the very essence of this idea of old, out of touch radicals.

Chen Jingjun under-reports wealth

April 14, 2010

The Control Yuan has fined Chen Jingjun NT100,000 (USD3,000) for under-reporting his wealth.  Chen apparently did not report more than 20 items with a value of NT10 million (USD 300,000).

Chen is currently running for the DPP’s nomination for Xinbei City Mayor.

Appeals in the Tainan Race

April 14, 2010

The two leading candidates in the Tainan mayoral race are running on experience and change, just as one might expect.

Incumbent Tainan City mayor Xu Tiancai 許添財 is running on experience.  He compared himself to famous CEOs, such as Steve Jobs at Apple and Chang Chungmou at Taiwan Semiconductors, saying that at critical times, you need an experience hand at the helm.  He also noted that the Tainan City government has gotten excellent ratings from the Executive Yuan over the past eight years, the unemployment rate in Tainan City has been the lowest in the country for three straight years, and the number of companies moving into the Tainan Science Park has increased sixfold compared to eight years ago.  He also claimed that legislator Wang Xingnan 王幸男 and former Tainan County Executive Mark Chen Tang-shan 陳唐山 have thrown their support to him.

Legislator Lai Qingde 賴清德 is running on change.  He claims that widely understood democratic principals should limit any person to two terms in executive office.  While technically the new Tainan City direct municipality is a different government, in reality, Xu has already served two terms as mayor of Tainan City and it is time for a new face.

Attempt to change the rules

April 14, 2010

DPP Legislator (and member of the DPP Central Executive Committee) Chen Tingfei 陳婷妃 has proposed changing the rules for the DPP’s nomination telephone surveys.  Under the current rules, respondents are asked which of the various DPP contestants they prefer.  However, Chen noted that, by the time the DPP conducts its surveys in May, the KMT will have already formally nominated its candidate.  Chen proposes adding a series of questions pitting each of the DPP hopefuls against the KMT candidate.  If only one person beats the KMT candidate, that person should get the nomination.  If more than one person beats the KMT candidate, then the intra-party question should decide the winner.

Chen Tingfei is currently serving as Xu Tiancai’s 許添財 campaign manager 競選總幹事.  Lai Qingde’s 賴清德 camp quickly responded that the rules are clear and established, and they should not be changed at this late date.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Lai is still winning, and Xu’s camp is trying to figure out some way to change the game.  They have probably done some surveys of their own and figured out that there is a possibility that Lai might lose against at least one of the KMT possibilities (though this would be stunning).  Perhaps it is just desperation.

Ji drops out of Taichung race

April 14, 2010

Legislator and Taichung County Black Faction member Ji Guodong 紀國棟 has announced that he is dropping out of the race for the KMT’s nomination for Taichung City mayor.  The KMT has responded by cancelling its plans to hold telephone surveys.

There is still one other candidate in the race.  However, legislator and Red Faction leader Liu Quanzhong 劉銓忠 has reportedly refused to accept the results of a telephone survey.  The Liberty Times suggests that he looks like he is going to run to the bitter end.

At any rate, if there is no telephone survey,  there is basically no way for Jason Hu 胡志強 not to get the nomination.  Moreover, he (or the KMT) has apparently made a deal with enough Black Faction members that he can count on the support of one of the main Taichung factions.  It remains to be seen how much of the Red Faction will remain recalcitrant.

Thanks for the defense … I think

April 14, 2010

Yang Qiuxing 楊秋興 complained about all the empty storefronts in Kaohsiung.  Legislator Chen Qiyu 陳啟昱, who apparently is on Chen Ju’s 陳菊 side, decided that this was unfair.  He held a press conference and argued that Kaohsiung had no problem.  Here is his evidence.  If you look at vacancy rates, the worst three counties and cities are Taichung City (26.0% vacancies),  Jilong City (23.8%), and Taoyuan County (23.2%).  All three are KMT governed cities, and Kaohsiung City doesn’t even make it onto that list.

Well, ok.  But what is Kaohsiung’s vacancy rate?  If it is 23.0% and Kaohsiung ranks #4, is that really very good?   Has it gone up more than the vacancy rate in other places?  Should we compare the vacancy rates in urban areas like Kaohsiung City and rural areas like Hualian County?  Are these vacancy rates for businesses, residential housing, everything, just 1st floors, or what?

The net effect of Chen Qiyu’s very weak defense is to make me believe that there really is something to the KMT’s (and now Yang’s) argument about the lousy real estate market in Kaohsiung.