Redistricting in Tainan

After looking at the Taichung and Kaohsiung redistricting plans, today I want to look at the plan for Tainan.  Tainan is gaining a seat.  Previously it had three in the county and two in the city.  All five of these were very “heavy” seats (average population: 372725).  When the city and county are combined the two remainders naturally combine to give Greater Tainan one more seat.  Now each of Tainan’s six seats will have an average of only 311605 people.  As in Kaohsiung, the changing number of seats basically requires that at least one of the new seats must cross the county/city boundaries.  So here are the old system and the CEC’s proposal:

Old System

# areas areas pop
1 新營、鹽水、白河、柳營、後壁、東山、下營、六甲、官田、學甲、將軍、北門 Xinying, Yanshui, Baihe, Liuying, Houbi, Dongshan, Xiaying, Liujia, Guantian, Xuejia, Jiangjun 349547
2 麻豆、大內、佳里、西港、七股、新化、善化、新市、安定、山上、玉井、楠西、南化、左鎮 Madou, Danei, Jiali, Xigang, Qigu, Xinhua, Shanhua, Xinshi, Anding, Shanshang, Yujing, Nanxi, Nanhua, Zuozhen 369284
3 永康、仁德、歸仁、關廟、龍崎 Yongkang, Rende, Guiren, Guanmiao, Longqi 383037
4 中西、北區、安南 Central-West, North, Annan 382425
5 東區、南區、安平 East, South, Anping 379333

CEC proposal

# areas areas pop
1 後壁、白河、北門、學甲、鹽水、新營、柳營、東山、將軍、六甲 Houbi, Baihe, Beimen, Xuejia, Yanshui, Xinying, Liuying, Dongshan, Jiangjun, Liujia 295946
2 下營、官田、七股、佳里、麻豆、大內、玉井、楠西、西港、山上、新化、左鎮、南化 Xiaying, Guantian, Qigu, Jiali, Madou, Danei, Yujing, Nanxi, Xigang, Shanshang, Xinshi, Zuozhen, Nanhua 308677
3 善化、安定、新市、永康 Shanhua, Anding, Xinshi, Yongkang 321121
4 安南、北區 Annan, North 307382
5 中西、安平、東區 Central-West, Anping, East 335159
6 南區、仁德、歸仁、關廟、龍崎 South, Rende, Guiren, Guanmiao, Longqi 301342

But, hey, none of us really cares too much about those tables; we care about the political effects of them.  So let’s look at the partisan balance of the old and new districts, using the 2008 party list vote for each camp as our indicator.

# blue green incumbent incumbent party
1 39.8 55.9 葉宜津 Ye Yijin DPP
2 39.4 56.3 黃偉哲 Huang Weizhe DPP
3 45.1 51.2 李俊毅 Li Junyi DPP
4 44.6 52.0 陳婷妃 Chen Tingfei DPP
5 48.7 47.9 賴清德 Lai Qingde DPP

CEC proposal

# blue green notes
1 40.3 55.4 old #1 minus Xiaying, Guantian
2 39.4 56.3 old #2 plus Xiaying, Guantian; minus Shanhua, Anding, Xinshi
3 44.7 51.7 new district
4 44.6 51.9 old #4 minus Central-West
5 50.2 46.4 old #5 minus South plus Central-West
6 42.3 54.1 old #3 minus Yongkang plus South

The most striking thing is that the new plan makes it possible for the KMT to win a seat.  Currently, the DPP holds all five seats, but the new plan creates a seat (District 5) in which the blue camp got nearly 4% more than the green camp in 2008.  (Remember the caveat: 2008 was a terrible year for the green camp, so you must adjust everything down for the KMT and up for the DPP.)  We’ll come back to District 5 later.

District 1 has only minor changes.  It remains a DPP stronghold.

District 2 has more changes with several townships leaving the district and others coming in, but the net partisan impact is minimal.  Incumbent Huang Weizhe’s hometown, Madou, is still in the district, so Huang will continue to enjoy the DPP’s best district in the entire country.

Most of the new District 3 is from the old #3 (Yongkang) plus a few townships from the old #2 to fill out the population.  I am calling this a new district because the incumbent, Li Junyi, in the old #3 is almost sure to compete in the new District 6.  Without Li, a six-term incumbent, this district could be competitive.  However, it should still favor the DPP.  The two parties are basically even in Yongkang, but the smaller surrounding townships tilt the balance.

The new District 4 is roughly the old #4, minus the Central-West district.  The partisan balance is basically unchanged.  In the last election, Chen Tingfei barely won, even though the district clearly leans to the DPP.  She has been a fairly high-profile legislator these two years, and I expect her to have an easier go of it in her re-election bid.

The new District 5 is going to be the controversial one.  According to the 2008 party list votes, the KMT should have had a slight edge in the old district.  However, it was won by Lai Qingde, who barely edged Gao Sibo (Zhu Lilun’s brother-in-law).  In the old district, there were three areas.  The East has the biggest population and is the only administrative district in Tainan City that clearly leans to the KMT.  This was balanced by the South, which is smaller, but leans Green heavily enough to cancel out the KMT’s margin from the East.  Anping is roughly even.  In the redistricting plan, the CEC removed the South and replaced it with the Central-West.  The Central-West is only about 2/3 the size of the South and it is not quite as heavily Green.  The result is a district dominated by the Blue-leaning East.  Somehow, a seat has appeared in Tainan that the KMT could very easily win.  Moreover, the DPP will almost certainly not have an incumbent to defend this seat, since Lai will likely be mayor by the end of the year.

The new district 6 is carved out of the more rural areas of the old #3.  Li Junyi will stay with his bailiwick, which is centered on his hometown of Guiren.  He will probably be happy to bid adieu to Yongkang, since he has never gotten many votes there anyway.  This district will remain a safe DPP district.

I have two other questions that I want to address.  First, county executive Su Huanzhi sparked my interest in this whole redistricting question last week when he attacked the CEC plan and offered his own alternative.  I assumed it must have something to do with gerrymandering.  My suspicions were heightened when I saw the partisan balance of the new District 5.  Certainly Su and the rest of the DPP would not stand for that.  Imagine my surprise to find that Su’s plan had nothing to do with District 5.  In fact, it merely rearranges Districts 2 and 3.  Roughly, it replaces the small townships (Shanhua, Xinshi, Anding) to the north of Yongkang with a different set of small townships (Xinhua, Danei, Shanshang, Yujing, Nanxi, Nanhua, Zuozhen) to the west. Both of these groups have just over 100000 people.  Su’s argument is that the townships to the west have historical, commercial, and other ties to Yongkang, not to the rest of District 2.  The townships to the north have ties with both and could go either way.

Great, but what would the political effect of such a move be?  In the CEC’s plan, the DPP has a 17 point advantage in District 2 and a 7 point advantage in District 3.  In Su’s plan, the DPP advantage in District 2 swells to a whopping 25 points.  In District 3 however, the KMT has a 1 point advantage.  In other words, the DPP county executive’s plan is a masterful gerrymander, packing the DPP supporters into District 2 so that the KMT has a chance in District 3.  In related news, Su Huanzhi is an idiot.  (I think I’ll stop here, while I’m still being polite.)

The second question is whether District 5 is contrived or necessary.  That is, did the CEC move mountains to create a good district for the KMT, or is this just the most obvious way to divide up Tainan?  I tried to create an alternate plan that followed three conditions: (1) the districts had relatively even population, (2) no administrative lines were crossed, and (3) historically tied clumps of townships in Tainan County (ie: the two clumps discussed in Su’s plan plus the clump of four townships in the new District 6) were not divided.  After about an hour of arranging and rearranging, I gave up.  The CEC plan was the only reasonable plan I could come up with.

Does that mean it is the best? Of course not!  A glance at the map suggest that the East district is a better combination than the South with the Guiren-Rende-Guanmiao-Longqi clump, but the East is simply too big.  However, if you are willing to cross administrative lines – and these don’t matter nearly as much in an urban setting as in a rural setting – then you could shift the South back to District 5 and even out the population by putting part of the East in District 5 and part in District 6.  There is a good argument that this arrangement is more natural, judging by transportation arteries.  Politically, it would almost certainly create two safe districts for the DPP.

I expect we have not heard the last of how to deal with the East and South districts.

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4 Responses to “Redistricting in Tainan”

  1. A-g Says:

    Loving the blog, great work! I really appreciate the election and data driven focus, and as you probably know, I especially love redistricting topics! Thank you!

  2. Michael Turton Says:

    This is good thing, because the CEC had robbed Tainan of a seat priorly. Their districting arrangements are usually pretty good, but once in a while they appear to defer to powerful local politicians.

  3. Taiwan Economics Says:

    But the other way to look at the CEC plan is to say that it gives the KMT a favorable position for one seat in exchange for absolutely, completely no shot at all for any of the other five seats and probably no shot for the next 8 years. Remember, last election, the DPP was at a deep nadir.

    To me, the real electoral reform is to stagger legislative elections so that half are up for election every 2 years. I would make it so that party legislators run with the president and are loyal to her or him. Otherwise, look what happened last time. You put all your eggs in one basket and you’re locked-in for four full years. It’s extremely risky, just as it would be if you were making financial investments.

    You might argue that there are local elections, but on principle, why should national impotence on the part of Ma Ying-jeou affect the election of mayor for Taipei City (although I may secretly cheer about it)? Local elections should be about local issues.

    Most radical and beneficial of all, but unlikely to pass would be allowing rank voting or instant runoff voting (IRV) to enable third parties to win without hurting more mainstream parties. This would allow a pro-mainland party to successfully compete against the KMT, and I would be hopeful that that would either leave the KMT dead or reformed and without all the corruption and inherent unfairness of millions in party assets on the pro-China side.

    After all, I find it highly unlikely a scrappy pro-mainland party could be serious about beating the KMT without appealing to more mainstream voters and being cleaner and more transparent.

  4. frozengarlic Says:

    I’d love to see staggered elections, more seats in the legislature, and preferential voting (STV!!). But I’m really not in the business of making proposals. Fundamentally leveling the playing field will take a lot more than simply changing the electoral system to allow the emergence of another KMT splinter party. Any such party would almost certainly be a KMT coalition partner, and this would block any fundamental reform. I think if you really wanted to dislodge the KMT’s unfair financial edge, you probably need at least decade of uninterrupted non pan-blue government (holding not only the presidency but also a reliable majority in the legislature). In that amount of time, you could reorient the courts, bureaucracy, military, and unearth many of the hidden assets. In other words, don’t expect a truly level playing field in the near or medium future. By the way, I would expect the Alternative Vote (IRV) or STV to increase, not decrease, money politics. Anything that encourages a personal vote tends to make elections more expensive. (And that’s not always a bad thing…)

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