I found two very interesting documents on the CEC website today that add quite a bit of flesh to the redistricting stories from the three previous posts.
The first document is a transcript of the public hearing held on April 26, 2010. There are several interesting things from this document.
I had speculated that there were KMT factional reasons for putting the two villages from Dali City back in with the rest of Dali City in the new Taichung District 7. In fact, the original CEC plan was to leave the districts unchanged. At the public hearing, DPP legislator Jian Zhaodong 簡肇棟 (who represents Dali City) suggested that the change be made. He also said that all factions and parties supported this move. So the faction speculation seems to be ungrounded in this case.
(Note: The document with the CEC’s redistricting plan that I have been discussing is dated May 4, 2010. So it is the plan including adjustments made after this public hearing. There was apparently a different draft before the public hearing.)
Xu Yangming 許陽明, a former DPP legislator and former Vice-mayor (of Kaohsiung?), complained that the legislative districts keep changing. The 6th LY had the old system, the (current) 7th LY changed to the new system, the CEC is currently rearranging districts in the new direct municipalities for the 8th term, and, after the new mayors redraw administrative district lines in the new direct municipalities, they will have to redraw legislative districts for the 9th term. OK, I don’t really care that the districts keep changing. The interesting part of this is the idea that one of the first tasks at hand for the new mayors will be to redraw the administrative district lines. It is a reasonable task. There are vast population differences between the various townships, and, without mayoral and town council elections, they won’t really have independent legal identities anyway. Beyond that, though, this is also a response to the KMT’s plan to appease its grassroots supporters. If you remember, a few months ago, the legislature passed a law to appoint current township mayors (who have not already served two terms) as new district heads and current town councils as new advisory council members. The KMT dominates these grassroots offices, and it wanted to take care of its people (who should return the favor by working hard in the 2012 election). The DPP response is to simply redraw the lines! Ok, maybe the law made you head of the old district, but that district no longer exists. As for the new district, since the office is vacant, I’ll appoint my own person. Nice!
There was a lot of discussion of Tainan Districts 5 and 6, as I suspected. Apparently the original draft split the East district, putting part of it into each of the two districts while putting the South into District 6. You might recognize this as the alternate plan I suggested if crossing administrative lines were allowable. A few people spoke in favor of changing the scheme. NCKU professor Zhou Zhijie 周志杰 was the principal proponent, giving four broad reasons for the change. First, the original plan split an administrative district, presenting difficulties for representation, constituency service, and administration of elections. Second, the South district is closer to the four townships in terms of level of urbanization, economic development, and transportation links (citing Expressway 88). Third, the East district is characterized by the education and service sectors, while the South district is more of a manufacturing and industrial area. This makes the South a better match for the largely agricultural four townships. Fourth, population growth in Tainan is concentrated in Yongkang and the East district. As such, these areas should be supplemented with other townships/districts to meet the necessary population requirements. In the future, they might be large enough to be a legislative district without any supplements.
Notice that these arguments make no reference to politics. Partisan advantage might be the underlying reason for wanting the change, but it is not a legitimate consideration in this forum. You have to make your argument in terms of “technical” criteria. I don’t know if the technical arguments will be the real deciding factors or not. It could be that the real decision is made behind the scenes and they simply use this technical language to justify the political decisions. However, we should not dismiss the possibility that the CEC really is a neutral decision-making body, and the technical arguments are the decisive arguments, at least at this stage. After all, there is little reason for the CEC to be too overtly political; the political horse-trading will have plenty of opportunities to change the plan when it goes to the legislature.
That said, I’m interested by Zhou’s arguments. To me, the fourth argument is silly. If anything, you should give less, not more, priority to fast-growing areas. After all, you have little idea what they will look like in the future. They could require a number of different adjustments. Moreover, I am not aware of any ideal for an administrative district to be an electoral district by itself. Besides, if the administrative lines are redrawn, today’s East district probably won’t exist in the same form tomorrow. I think the second and third arguments, about cohesiveness are potentially much better. However, I would dispute the argument about transportation links. The road that Zhou cites, Expressway 88, is a brand new road. There is not much development along it. Except for this road, Rende Township is basically cut off from the South district by the airport. The older, more established roads going from Rende Township into Tainan City all go into the East district. Since the transportation links clearly connect Rende and East, I’m guessing that all the other economic relationships are also closer. In other words, I think that politics was probably driving the effort to revise the proposal.
The final interesting point from the public hearing involved Kaohsiung’s loss of a seat. Lots of people complained about this. The CEC official answered that the formula in use has not change since legislative elections began in 1969. I found the document discussing reapportionment on the CEC’s website, dated Jan. 15, 2010. That document has one nice table, but the formatting limitations of this blog keep me from just copying it. So I’ll cut it into several pieces.
First, we start with the population of each county/city in November 2009 (one year before the election). If you divide the total population by 73 (the number of single seat districts, SSDs), you get 309662. All counties that have fewer than 309662 people get one seat.
Eliminate those six districts. This leaves us with 67 seats and 21731151 people, or 324345 per seat. Each 324345 people make one quota. Calculate how many full quotas each county gets and the remaining population left over. There are 60 full quotas. Since there are 67 seats that need to be filled, the seven largest remainders get the last seven seats. So Nantou and Pingdong got the last two seats, while Hsinchu County and Pingdong are the first losers.
In jargon, this is a Largest Remainders System. There are different versions of this system which would yield slightly different results, but this system is perfectly defensible. Anyway, the most important thing in judging the fairness of the apportionment system is perhaps not the system itself, but whether it is seen as a politically calculated method that systematically advantages one side or whether it is simply a technical exercise. This method has been in use for forty years, and the first loser always complains. However, since there hasn’t been any real pattern to who loses over the years, I don’t see much legitimacy to these complaints.