I’m rather interested by developments in the three small parties concerning the legislative election. All three have learned from last time that they need to contest this election and win some seats if they plan on surviving as meaningful parties, and all three have announced plans to nominate their own party list. I don’t know if any of them will pass the 5% threshold to win list seats, but that’s a question for another day.
What I’m paying more attention to right now are the district races. Both the New Party and the TSU will likely nominate some candidates for a handful of races, but nothing clear has emerged yet. The PFP roster, in contrast, is slowly taking shape. Some of the candidates are fairly certain; others are just rumors.
Let’s stop for a disclaimer. Much of this is gleaned from news reports from about a month and a half ago, so things might have changed in the meantime. Some of these are just rumors and may never have had much substance behind them in the first place. And the PFP and KMT could yet come to an agreement like they did four years ago. So keep all that in mind. However, for now, it seems fairly likely that the PFP will field a roster of candidates, even if it is not exactly this roster.
The most interesting thing about this roster is the types of districts that the PFP seems to be targeting. For the most part, they are looking at the deep blue districts. Taipei 6 is a good example. This district covers Da-an District, and the blue camp usually beats the green camp here by about a 2-1 margin. The KMT incumbent is a fairly unremarkable politician. He was a city council member for two decades before taking the seat in a by-election when Diane Lee was forced to resign amid scandal. As far as I can tell, Chiang Nai-hsin does great constituency service and never speaks to the media about anything controversial. In short, he is a great target for the PFP. They can present themselves as the ideological party running against a traditionally oriented KMT politician without any danger of throwing the race to the DPP. The most basic problem facing the PFP is to convince potential supporters that they can consider voting for the PFP without it helping the DPP, and that is not much of a problem in this district (especially since the DPP candidate is a political novice). The only problem in this brilliant strategy is the PFP candidate, Chen Chen-sheng, who is himself a constituency service type of politician and an outsider to boot. My guess is that Chiang will repulse this rather weak challenger fairly easily. However, several other potential PFP candidates will be in similar races and might fare better. Chen Fu-hai (Jinmen), Lin Cheng-er (Plains Aborigines), Walis Pelin (Mountain Aborigines), James Soong (Hualien), Lee Ao or Lee Tung-hao (Taipei 8), and Chen Hsueh-sheng (Lianjiang) all could ask for votes without potentially throwing the race to the DPP.
In fact, I think the PFP should probably adopt this strategy wholesale. Now, in some of these overwhelmingly blue districts, the incumbent is already close to the PFP. For example, Hsieh Kuo-liang (Jilong) is a former PFP member, and the PFP appears to have decided not to challenge him, as evidenced by former legislator Liu Wen-hsiung being rumored to run in New Taipei 1 rather than in Jilong, where he has been winning races for two decades. Sun Ta-chien (Taoyuan 6), Fei Hong-tai (Taipei 7, Lee Ching-hua (New Taipei 12), and Hsu Yao-chang (Miaoli 2) also fall into this category. On the other hand, I would have thought that Lin Yu-fang (Taipei 5) and Lai Shi-bao (Taipei 8) (who was formerly a New Party member, not a PFP member) would also get this sort of courtesy, but Lee Ao is talking about challenging one of them.
This still leaves several districts that the PFP should have no compunction about challenging the KMT in. The two most obvious are Taoyuan 5 and New Taipei 11. Taoyuan 5 is Chu Feng-chih’s old district (Pingzhen, Longtan). She lost her primary to a local politician who was promptly convicted in a court case. Right now, it looks like the KMT will run his wife in his stead because even though he is too corrupt to represent the party, his wife is clearly completely innocent (sarcasm off). This district is screaming for a national, ideologically oriented, clean politician to parachute in and take the seat away from the KMT, but I haven’t heard of the PFP trying to find a candidate for it. New Taipei 11 (Xindian) is currently held by Lo Ming-tsai, son of the notorious crime boss Lo Fu-chu. Now I’m sure the younger Lo is a wonderful fellow, and he seems to take good care of the grassroots, but how hard would it be for the PFP to run a campaign in this district? Strangely enough, they don’t seem to want to contest this seat.
(There is a rumor of three blue independent candidates forming an alliance and contesting New Taipei 8, 9, and 11. We’ll see if that one has any substance. However, only one of the three sounded to me like she might have a chance of winning any votes.)
A second, and far less interesting category, is the hopeless races. The PFP is running a candidate in Tainan 1, where the only question is whether the DPP will win by 20% or 30%, and Taichung 7, where the DPP incumbent is probably strong enough to fend off all but the strongest challengers (and this one ain’t that guy). The United Daily News wrote a front page story about possible cooperation between the KMT and PFP in Tainan 1, claiming the fact that the KMT might support the PFP’s candidate there was a model for harmony within the blue camp. This is ludicrous. It is easy to cooperate when the question is who will have the honor of being slaughtered in a hopeless race. I guess the more important thing is that, again, the PFP can’t be accused of causing the DPP to win a seat that the blue camp should have won.
However, there are some cases in the third category, in which the PFP might throw the race to the DPP. In Taipei 4 (Nangang, Neihu), the blue camp has a clear advantage and should win every generic race. However, incumbent Tsai Cheng-yuan won a very controversial and divisive primary, and he has corruption issues swirling about him. PFP city councilor Huang Shan-shan is clean and articulate. She could be precisely the type of candidate able to expose Tsai’s weaknesses most effectively. The danger for the blue camp is that the DPP can probably count on 40-45% or so in this district. If neither Tsai nor Huang emerge as the clear leader in the blue camp, blue supporters might not know which way to throw their support at the last minute and that might lead to a DPP plurality. If the PPF runs candidates in Taipei 5 (Wanhua, Zhongzheng), New Taipei 1 (Danshui and north coast), or Kaohsiung 3 (Nanzi, Zuoying) those races could be similar to Taipei 4. Taidong and New Taipei 7 (southern half of Banqiao) could be similar, but the DPP is probably even stronger in those districts. And who the hell who knows what will happen in Hsinchu County. Seriously, in that district, anything can happen.
Note: Please don’t assume that the PFP will actually throw all the races in category three to the DPP. I’m just saying that the potential for this occurring exists in these races. For that to actually happen, the PFP candidates have to first establish themselves as credible candidates. In most cases, blue voters will simply figure that the PFP candidate is hopeless and vote for the KMT. The PFP candidates who don’t have a long track record of winning votes in that district are probably facing a hopeless battle, and the one’s that do have no guarantee that their former supporters will continue to vote for them. Hey, elections are a cruel game.
Fairly likely to run
|Taipei 4||黃珊珊||Huang Shan-shan||City council|
|Taipei 6||陳振盛||Chen Chen-sheng||Ex-legislator (Nantou County)|
|Taichung 7||段緯宇||Duan Wei-yu||City council|
|Tainan 1||李宗智||Lee Tsung-chih||Ex mayor of Xinying Township|
|Jinmen||陳福海||Chen Fu-hai||Legislator (IND)|
|Plains Aborigines||林正二||Lin Cheng-er||Ex-Legislator|
|Mountain Aborigines||瓦歷斯貝林||Walis Pelin||Ex-legislator|
Rumors, Rumors, Rumors
|Taipei 5/8||李敖||Lee Ao||Ex-legislator, intellectual|
|Taipei 8||李桐豪||Lee Tung-hao||Ex-legislator (list)|
|Taidong||吳俊立||Wu Chun-li||Ex-county magistrate|
|Hualian||宋楚瑜||James Soong||PFP chair|
|New Taipei 1||劉文雄||Liu Wen-hsiung||Ex-legislator (Jilong City)|
|New Taipei 7||吳清池||Wu Ching-chih||Ex-legislator|
|Kaohsiung 3||黎建南||Lee Chien-nan|
|Hsinchu County||張碧琴||Chang Bi-chin||Ex CA speaker|