On assassins

The local media is using a foreign term and getting it wrong.  Again.  Sigh.  This time the local media has taken to calling a handful of candidates “assassins.”

The term comes from the 2005 elections in Japan.  LDP Prime Minister Koizumi wanted to pass postal reform, but a handful of old faction politicians in his party blocked him in the Diet.  He retaliated forcefully.  First he kicked them out of the party, then he called new elections, and then he sent into their districts assassins to kill them.  The assassins were mostly young, attractive, and female.  In the end, the assassins failed miserably (though no one remembers this).  None of them won, and nearly the old faction politicians survived.  However, by turning the election into a referendum on change vs no change, Koizumi won a smashing national victory.  (Everyone remembers this part!)  Ironically, the biggest losers were the DJP, who were advocating even more dramatic reform than Koizumi.   But their message was lost in the dominant discourse of progressive Koizumi vs. reactionary old factions, and the DJP got swept aside in the wave of support for Koizumi.

Back to Taiwan.  The media has dubbed several candidates assassins, most prominently Su Chun-pin 蘇俊賓, Chen Yi-chen 陳以真, and Chien wei-chuan 錢薇娟.  These three are all young attractive KMT candidates sent into an unfamiliar district that heavily favors the DPP against an entrenched DPP incumbent.  In other words, they are sure losers, even if the KMT is suggesting that they can go in and kill the DPP incumbent.  However, this is where the term falls apart.  Koizumi’s assassins were sent in to kill disloyal members of his own party.  By sending the assassins, he sent a clear message to the country about what he stood for.  If the KMT wanted to really follow the LDP’s example, they would send in young, attractive, and idealistic candidates against corrupt or disloyal members of their own party.  Instead of sending those three to fight DPP candidates, Koizumi style assassins would be sent to Taichung 2 to take on Yen Ching-piao 顏清標 (organized crime), New Taipei 11 to kill Lo Ming-tsai 羅明才 (organized crime), and Taipei 4 to defeat Tsai Cheng-yuan 蔡正元 (embezzlement).  This might even frame the election as a fight between honesty and corruption and lead to a KMT landslide.

Right now, Su, Chen, and Chien aren’t assassins at all.  They’re just turkeys.

2 Responses to “On assassins”

  1. Little Flea Says:

    So insightful 🙂
    For legislature elections, I used to care only about the seat distribution among parties, and I know nothing about the city/county political environments. Now I’m finding local political landscape quite interesting after reading some of Fronze Garlic’s analysis.

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