first cut at city council results

I’m going to take a first stab at some of the election results today.  There are lots of things I want to look at in the data, and I almost certainly won’t be done probing this stuff two or three years from now.  At this stage, I’m just looking at some of the most obvious questions and easiest to produce descriptive statistics.

The following will all deal with city council election results.

In a previous post, I noted that Chen Shui-bian’s One Side One Country Alliance ran 37 candidates and won 30 seats.  Here are the party winners and losers:


Party lose win candidates
KMT 77 130 207
DPP 31 130 161
New 6 3 9
PFP 13 4 17
TSU 13 2 15
Green 5 0 5
Independents 187 45 232
total 332 314 646


Remember, the KMT got more total votes in these elections than the DPP, by a margin of 38.6 to 35.3.  However, there were a lot more KMT candidates, and a lot more KMT losers.

Let’s look at the two big parties in the five cities.


city party lose win candidates
Taipei KMT 2 31 33
  DPP 7 23 30
Xinbei KMT 14 30 44
  DPP 5 28 33
Taichung KMT 20 27 47
  DPP 7 24 31
Tainan KMT 23 13 36
  DPP 7 27 34
Kaohsiung KMT 18 29 47
  DPP 5 28 33


Taipei was markedly different from everywhere else.  In Taipei City, the KMT had a fantastic day, losing only two races.  Everywhere else, the KMT was bloodied.  The worst was in Tainan, where nearly 2/3 of their nominees lost.  Ouch.  The DPP’s performance was much more even across cities.  They did a bit worse in Taipei City, but the differences in DPP winning percentages were much smaller.

Remember that, compared to past years, there were more seats available in Taipei, the same number in Xinbei, and far fewer in Taichung, Tainan, and Kaohsiung.  This meant that all those KMT incumbents in the latter three cities were chasing only a few seats.  This was less of a problem for the DPP since it had fewer incumbents and a growing share of the overall vote.  With so many incumbents and so few total seats, the KMT almost had to overnominate.  As a result, they had fewer votes for each candidate.


city Party Candidates (excluding aborigines) Votes per candidate
Taipei KMT 31 20462
  DPP 30 17204
Xinbei KMT 41 20148
  DPP 32 22587
Taichung KMT 41 12700
  DPP 31 14849
Tainan KMT 32 8995
  DPP 32 11809
Kaohsiung KMT 40 14828
  DPP 31 18132


Since the cities have different population to seat ratios, you have to look at them separately.  However, we can see that the KMT in Taipei had 3000 more votes per candidate to work with than the DPP.  Even if you don’t split your votes very evenly among your candidates, 3000 extra votes is a big cushion.  You can make some mistakes.  Everywhere else, the DPP had a sizeable cushion.  The 3000 vote cushion in Tainan is especially huge, given the lower numbers.  (DPP candidates in Tainan had 31% more votes per candidate to work with.)

Given these margins, it doesn’t look like the DPP’s superior performance was due to better vote rationing (though I’ll certainly look into that eventually).  Rather, it comes from better nominating.  Better nominating could mean two things.  It could mean that the KMT judged correctly the number of votes it would get but couldn’t persuade its members to nominate an appropriately low number of candidates.  It could also mean that the KMT thought it would get more vote, and it nominated appropriately for a higher vote share.  I’ll have to look into that.


It is interesting to look at the numbers of candidates and votes in each city.  Remember that Taipei, Taichung, and Kaohsiung are roughly the same size.  They should have roughly the same number of candidates and the same average number of votes per candidate.  The numbers should be a bit lower in Tainan and a bit higher in Xinbei.  Instead, the averages in Taichung are extremely low.  Taichung had lots and lots of incumbents running as independents.  The numbers are extremely high in Taipei, which has very few significant independents and more seats than incumbents.


One other thing I can look at today is party mavericks.  These are people who contested the party nomination, lost in the primary, and ran as independents.  We are interested in whether the party primary works well.  If it works well, primary losers should see that they have little chance in the general election and accept defeat.  If they choose to run anyway, they should get little support.  (I’ll talk about Yang Chiu-hsing some other time.)  Here is a summary of how people who lost in the KMT and DPP primaries did:


  KMT mavericks DPP mavericks
Total 42 10
Winners 4 0
Losers 38 10
Average # votes 7246 6825


As you can see, very few of the people who lost in the primary but ran anyway were able to win their races.  They did get significant numbers of votes, which suggests that they had some appeal beyond the party label.  In fact, 7000 votes was usually sufficient to win prior to this year.  However, this has to be considered a victory for party discipline.


The biggest reason for the DPP’s good performance this year is perhaps the one-time effect of switching systems.  The KMT was hit especially hard, as it had too many incumbents.  Independents had a miserable day.  There were lots of independents who could mobilize 6000 votes.  However, it is hard to expand your personal network from 6000 to 12000.  Party votes are much more fungible.  Next time all those independents will be gone, and the elections will be even more of a competition between political parties.


3 Responses to “first cut at city council results”

  1. Michael Turton Says:

    It almost looks like someone at the DPP HQ crunched the numbers right for once. But then that is hard to believe. The DPP had some excellent candidates — and your remark about independents finding it hard to grow from 6K to 12K actually applies to KMT candidates as well, since they are as dependent on local faction networks as independents — many of whom used to be KMTers anyway.

    In sum, I think the lesson here isn’t vote rationing but instead that the DPP is becoming more like real political party whereas the KMT hasn’t undergone needed structural reform– it is still an multiethnic coalition party held together by money flows under a colonial center which guides local faction politicians.

    Great analysis and excellent numbers.


  2. frozengarlic Says:

    I think you might be selling the KMT short a bit. Their candidates might find it harder to expand from 6000 to 12000 than DPP candidates, but there are plenty of KMT voters who will shift their support to other KMT candidates. This is certainly true in Taipei City, and I suspect it is increasingly common even in more rural areas of the new cities. (Miaoli or Nantou? Not so much.)

    I also suspect that the KMT has already hit bottom in most places. In the old days (30 years ago), the KMT would nominate legions of candidates, sometimes even more than the available number of seats. Each candidate had his own personal network, and the more KMT candidates, the fewer votes left over for any opposition candidates. At some point, this strategy started to backfire, as opposition politicians started putting together more solid support coalitions that could not be eroded by a few more KMT politicians with personal networks. This left the KMT with too many candidates and too few votes and an election disaster. In Taipei City, this was the 1995 legislative election. After the disaster, the KMT had to rethink its nomination strategy and nominate much more conservatively. In addition, its candidates tended to be a lot less afraid to run on the party label (since there were now enough KMT votes to go around). And the KMT has turned into much more of a real party.

    Every area is going through this process at different paces and sometimes with less dramatic crises. However, I suspect the KMT nomination strategy will be a lot less conservative next time in a lot of places.

  3. Michael Turton Says:

    I don’t agree. I think if you look at elections like Fu Kun-chi in Hualien or Yang Chiu-hsing in Kaohsiung, what you see is that while there is a bloc of voters willing to vote KMT regardless, the bloc that votes on candidates or along patronage networks is bigger. The “party vote” is smaller. Yang also shows the opposite for the DPP — when he changed sides, everyone involved with him remained in the DPP and dumped him. His lack of local netowkr support from the KMT or party approval from the DPP killed his candidacy. Remember the Miaoli by-election last year in which the DPP got its people out for an independent candidate? Does the KMT have that kind of Party discipline? Not yet, I would argue.

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