It’s been a while since I have written anything on this blog because (a) I’ve got other stuff to do and (b) not much is happening in the world of elections right now. In the past two and a half month, the major election related news has been about the very early presidential race. Apparently President Ma is going to run for re-election. Shocker. It looks like Speaker Wang will remain Speaker Wang. The KMT’s “rule” that people on the party list can only serve two terms may not be written in stone. And Premier Wu is still rumored to be the most likely Vice Presidential candidate. None of this is much of a surprise. (Frozen Garlic’s mad genius suggestion: Ma should choose CEC Chair and former Chiayi City Mayor Chang Po-ya as his running mate. It will never happen, but it would be genius.)
On the DPP side, there also hasn’t been anything that significant. Annette Lu has announced her candidacy to a resounding yawn. The race is between Su and Tsai, something we have been aware of for over a year. Tsai is probably ahead now, but I think she damaged herself by overplaying her hand in the battle for the nominations process. The DPP will have its presidential nomination in late April. (Why the rush? The election isn’t for another 11 months. Of course, as the leader, Tsai wants this decision made as soon as possible before anything happens to change the race.) Tsai also got her way in the legislative nominations. She wanted the district nominations to be decided by telephone survey, with no party member voting component, and she wanted the party chair (herself!) to completely decide the party list. The latter, especially, is where I think she went a bit too far. Then, a couple of weeks ago, the DPP announced that it would forgo any nomination process in “difficult” districts, and the party would simply draft candidates for these districts. The problem is that their definition of “difficult” is so broad that it encompasses 40 of the 73 districts. In some of these, the DPP should probably be favored to win. This is ridiculous and simply a clear power grab. So much for the institutionalization of the rules of competition.
Unlike last year, we haven’t heard a whole lot about the by-elections. There is a good reason for this. Unlike last year, when the DPP was winning amazing victories on the KMT’s turf, this year’s contests are being fought on DPP turf and should be fairly easy victories for the DPP.
One of the races is in Tainan City. This is the KMT’s strongest district in all of Tainan. In the 2008 KMT wave, the DPP was barely able to win this race even with a strong candidate. In this election cycle, with things swinging toward the DPP and in a by-election (which seems to play to the DPP’s strengths), it shouldn’t be as close. Moreover, the DPP has a clear edge in candidates. The DPP candidate is the former mayor, Hsu Tain-tsair 許添財, while the KMT is running an incumbent party list legislator, Chen Shu-huey 陳淑慧. The KMT made a big deal about the fact that it’s preferred two candidates both declined to run in this race. Both were forced out of their minor cabinet positions, as party leaders (esp King Pu-tsung 金溥聰) grumbled that the soldiers the party had spent the last few years cultivating refused to fight when the party needed them. In their defense, it isn’t really Wang Yu-ting’s 王昱婷 district, and Kao Su-po’s 高思博 family (he is Eric Chu’s 朱立倫 brother-in-law) just finished a grueling campaign. I wouldn’t have run either if I were them. So instead, the KMT turned to Chen Shu-huey, who is currently on the party list and the wife of former legislator and mayoral candidate Lin Nan-sheng 林南生. She should be a competent candidate, though I doubt Lin still has as much support as he enjoyed at his apex about 15 years ago. On the other hand, this is the first time an incumbent party list legislator has run in a district by-election, and one can imagine that this makes for an awkward argument. Vote for me, though win or lose, I’ll stay in the legislature. Really, you need to vote for me so that the next person on the party list can win office. So the choice is between having one more representative from Tainan and one more representative from … Yunlin (where the next person on the party list is from, I think).
In Kaohsiung, the race is between the DPP’s Lin Tai-hua 林岱華, a former two-term legislator and Hsu Ching-huang 徐慶煌, the son of former DPP legislator Hsu Chih-ming 徐志明. The father was an old-time member of the Kaohsiung County Black Faction. The Black Faction was led by the Yu family, and it occupied a strange position between opposition politics and good old-fashioned money politics. I don’t know how closely the son hews to the father’s political style, but it wasn’t all that uncommon for Black Faction politicians to change sides. Anyway, Hsu has been nominated by the KMT. Apparently they think their best shot is with a politician who seems to have a foot in the other camp. In this district, it may well be. For what it’s worth, Hsu did win about 13000 votes as an independent in 2008. That’s not nothing, but I don’t think this election is about him. This district clearly leans to the green camp, and if they close ranks and vote along party lines, they should win easily. With a compelling candidate in Lin, I really don’t think this race should be close.