Archive for the ‘2012 legislative’ Category

DPP all-stars

January 18, 2012

Which DPP candidates did well, and which were terrible?  We could judge this by who won and who lost, but that overlooks the very important factor that it is a lot easier to win in a place like Tainan than it is in a place like Hsinchu County.  So instead of looking at winning and losing, I’m going to compare each candidate’s performance to a party baseline.  I’m using the presidential vote as a baseline, mostly for convenience.  The CEC still hasn’t released the downloadable precinct level election data [I think they are waiting to finish all the recounts], so this is the fastest way to put together a small data set.

This is still very quick and dirty.  Many districts cross township borders, and I don’t have time to figure out the exact presidential votes in these districts.  Instead, I am just putting the entire township total into one district or another.  For example, Shilin 士林 District is split between Taipei 1 and Taipei 2.  Most of it is in Taipei 2, but the Tienmu 天母 area is in Taipei 1.  I put the entire Shilin District into District 2.  Since the Tienmu area leans heavily to the DPP, this has the effect of making District 1 look greener than it really is and making District 2 look bluer than it really is.  So this is not perfect, but this is the best I can do right now.


Let’s look at the All-Stars.  Here are the candidates who beat Tsai Ing-wen by at least 4%.  Districts with asterisks are ones that might not be so accurate.


District Name Tsai LY% + Win?
Taitung* Liu Chao-hao




Pingtung 3 Pan Men-an




Taichung 1 Tsai Chi-chang




Penghu Yang Yao




New Taipei 2* Lin Shu-fen




Taichung 6 Lin Chia-lung




Kaohsiung 4 Lin Tai-hua




Hsinchu Cnty Perng Shaw-jiin




Taichung 4 Chang Liao Wan-chien




Yunlin 2 Liu Chien-kuo




Tainan 3 Chen Ting-fei




Tainan 2 Huang Wei-cher




Taoyuan 2 Kuo Jung-chung




Taoyuan 3* Huang Jen-shu




Taichung 7 Ho Hsin-chun




Changhua 4 Wei Ming-ku






Liu Chao-hao 劉櫂豪 tops the list, but a third of Taitung’s population is Aborigines who vote in the presidential election but not in the district legislative election.  Aborigines vote overwhelmingly for the KMT, so Liu benefitted tremendously by not having them in his district.  Liu probably ran ahead of Tsai, but not by much.  I don’t think he belongs on this list.  He owes his victory to a split KMT vote, not to a spectacular personal vote.

Pan Men-an 潘孟安 in Pingtung 3 is in second place.  His district also has quite a few aborigines, but they are a significantly smaller percentage of the population than in Taitung.  Pan’s bonus is inflated, but he clearly belongs on this list.  The KMT ran a very weak candidate, and Pan crushed him.  Several other candidates had similar situations – a clear DPP majority in the district, a very weak KMT candidate, and a crushing victory.  These candidates include Lin Tai-hua 林岱樺, Huang Wei-cher 黃偉哲, and Chen Ting-fei 陳亭妃.

One person who you might think belongs in the above category but actually does not is Lin Shu-fen 林淑芬 (New Taipei 2).  Her district is only marginally pro-green.  In fact, it is almost exactly identical to neighboring New Taipei 3, which the DPP won by a razor-thin margin.  Lin Shu-fen turned her slight advantage into an overwhelming victory.  Note that the four candidates in the previous category and Lin Shu-fen are all incumbents.

There were five DPP candidates who won in majority blue districts.  In these districts, Tsai had less that 50%, but the legislative candidate significantly outpolled her and was able to transform defeat into victory.  These are the DPP superstars this year.  Three of the five are in Taichung, where the Tsai Ing-wen did not have a majority any district.  However, Tsai Chi-chang 蔡其昌, Lin Chia-lung 林佳龍, and Ho Hsin-chun 何欣純 ran 7.9%, 6.5%, and 4.3% ahead of her.  You can really see the importance of good candidates in these close Taichung races by the fact that Tsai Ing-wen actually got a higher vote share in Taichung 3 and Taichung 8 than in any of these three districts.  However, the DPP candidates in those two districts were extremely weak.  (Taichung 3 is Michael Turton’s home district.  This should make him puke.)  The other two DPP superstars were Yang Yao 楊曜 in Penghu and Wei Ming-ku 魏明谷 in Changhua 4.  Note that none of these five were incumbents.

Finally, there are three candidates who did very well in a losing effort.  Perng Shaw-jiin 彭紹瑾 and Chang Liao Wan-chien 張廖萬堅 both ran well ahead of Tsai, but they started from such a deep hole that even this nice performance didn’t come close to victory.  Kuo Jung-chung 郭榮宗 in Taoyuan 2 very nearly joined the superstar category.  However, he started from a deeper hole than any of those five, as Tsai only got 44.6% of the vote in his district, and it was a two candidate race with no minor candidates to siphon votes away from the KMT candidate.  Kuo ran 5.2% ahead of Tsai; he needed to run 5.5% ahead.  Regardless, Kuo, Perng, and Chang Liao can all hold their heads high in defeat.

Huang Jen-shu 黃仁杼 probably doesn’t belong on this list.  Part of Zhongli City is in Taoyuan 6, and that part, which has a heavy military population, is overwhelmingly blue.  Tsai’s vote includes all of Zhongli City, so it looks low. Tsai’s vote in Taoyuan 3 is higher, and Huang probably did not run far ahead of her, if at all.


I’ll look at the poor performers next time.

Grading my LY prediction

January 15, 2012

Seven week before the election, I classified all 73 seats into one of five categories.  Let’s see how I did.  Here is what I wrote:

Here’s my up to date handicapping of all the races.  It still looks like the blue camp will retain a majority, but that is not a sure bet by any means.  The hardest line to draw in this particular exercise was the one between “leans blue” and “tossup”.  On another day, the two might have had 15 and 16 districts, respectively.  I also think that the green camp is likely to win well more than half of the current tossup group.

Keep in mind that the blue camp will win all six aboriginal seats.

I’m still basing this all on a small KMT overall victory, say about 52-48.  If the DPP wins the presidency by 52-48, they will probably win all the tossups plus a couple others, such as New Taipei 6, Taichung 3, Miaoli 1, and Penghu.  The basic point is that I can imagine scenarios in which the DPP wins a majority without stretching my imagination too much.

The KMT won the presidency by 6 points, and, more importantly, the blue camp beat the green camp by about 9 points, so my predictions should be overly optimistic for the DPP.  Here is the table.  KMT wins are blue, and DPP wins are red (green is hard to see).

Safe blue (14) Leans blue (20) Tossup (11) Leans Green (17) Safe Green (11)
Taipei 1 Taipei 3 Taipei 4 Taipei 2 New Taipei 2
Taipei 6 Taipei 5 New Taipei 4 New Taipei 3 Tainan 1
Taipei 7 New Taipei 1 New Taipei 7 New Taipei 5 Tainan 2
Taipei 8 New Taipei 6 New Taipei 10 Taichung 1 Tainan 3
New Taipei 8 New Taipei 12 Taichung 6 Taichung 7 Tainan 4
New Taipei 9 Taichung 2 Kaohsiung 1 Taichung 8 Tainan 5
New Taipei 11 Taichung 3 Kaohsiung 2 Kaohsiung 5 Kaohsiung 4
Taichung 5 Taichung 4 Kaohsiung 8 Kaohsiung 6 Yunlin 2
Taoyuan 6 Kaohsiung 3 Taoyuan 1 Kaohsiung 7 Chiayi 2
Miaoli 2 Taoyuan 3 Taoyuan 4 Kaohsiung 9 Pingtung 1
Jilong Taoyuan 5 Taitung Ilan Pingtung 3
Hsinchu City Hsinchu Cnty Taoyuan 2
Jinmen Miaoli 1 Changhua 1
Lienchiang Changhua 2 Yunlin 1
Changhua 3 Chiayi 1
Changhua 4 Pingtung 2
Nantou 1 Chiayi City
Nantou 2

How did I do?

Safe blue: 14 of 14 correct (100%)

Leans blue: 18 of 20 (90%)

tossup: KMT 6, DPP 5

leans green: 9 of 17 correct (53%)

safe green: 11 of 11 (100%)

overall safe or leaning: 52 of 62 (84%)

I think I misclassified a few of the seats that I got right.  Taipei 4, Taoyuan 1, and Taoyuan 4 should have been blue leaning seats, not tossup seats.  In those districts, Tsai’s vote was not close to Ma’s.   Tainan 3 and Tainan 4 probably should have been listed as leaning green, not safe green.

What about the ten races I got wrong?  Well, in the leans green category, five of the eight losses were by razor thin margins (Taoyuan 2, Changhua 1, Yunlin 1, Chiayi 1, Pingtung 2).  If Tsai had lost by four points instead of six (or nine), the DPP would have won those five seats.  I’ll blame the nearly perfect split of green votes in Kaohsiung 9 on CSB’s mother-in-law’s untimely death.  The DPP should have won Taichung 8; its candidate was shockingly weak.

I have no excuse for New Taipei 5.  This one is in the wrong category.  In recent elections, Shulin has been a fairly good area for the DPP, but this time Tsai lost to Ma in Shulin by a clear margin.

The two misses in the leans blue category were highly surprising to me.  Ma won a majority in both districts, and the KMT had seemingly entrenched incumbents in both.  At least I can claim I had my eye on Penghu; Changhua 4 was completely unexpected to me.  Heck, the DPP candidate was a familiar old face, and I thought we could be sure that we knew what he was (not) capable of.   Every election has at least one completely inexplicable result, and this was it for me.

Overall, this wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t bad considering I had no polling data to work with.

Immediate reactions

January 15, 2012

Sometimes it is easy to forget how stable Taiwan’s party politics are.  This election result reflects that underlying stability.  It is hard to move the national vote more than a few percentage points.

I previously wrote that even if Ma Ying-jeou won, it would be an ugly win.  I was wrong.  His 6% win seems like a substantial win, especially when you consider that the blue-green balance is 54-46.  This is a little smaller than the 58-42 balance of four years ago, but 54-46 is still a substantial gap, especially since the KMT did not have the advantage of running against an unpopular and discredited incumbent.  With a sizeable 70-43 majority in the legislature, Ma Ying-jeou is not going to immediately become a lame duck president.  Instead, he probably has enough power to do most of what he wants.  He will almost certainly have the power to implement the next stage of ECFA, and it is not out of the question that he could push through the peace agreement that he mentioned during the campaign.


Because the blue camp vote was split between Ma and Soong, I am going to look primarily at the green camp vote.  Four years ago, Frank Hsieh got 41.6% of the vote.  This year, Tsai Ing-wen got 45.6%.  The interesting thing is that the DPP’s vote grew just about 4% everywhere, regardless of how much they had four years ago.  The only major exception is Taipei City, which has always been the most stable place in Taiwan.  The increase is slightly higher in Tsai’s childhood home of Pingtung and in the northern Hakka areas (Taoyuan, Hsinchu County, and Miaoli), but the difference is not too great.  The DPP even increased by nearly 4% in Jinmen and Lianjiang which is particularly startling since this meant that they nearly doubled their previous levels of support.  I’m not sure what this nearly uniform increase means, but it certainly is interesting.





Taipei City




New Taipei












Hsinchu Cnty
























Chiayi Cnty
































Hsinchu City




Chiayi City














I had thought that Tsai Ing-wen would run a bit ahead of her party, but this turned out not to be the case.  If you take the party list votes and break them into their traditional blue and green components (KMT, PFP, and NP are blue; DPP and TSU are green), the balance is 51.5-43.6, or a 7.9% lead for the blue camp.  That is only slightly smaller than the gap in the presidential election.  The other parties collectively took about 4.9% of the party list vote.  If you really want to apportion their votes to the blue or green camps, I would put the People Party (人民最大黨) and the Green Party in the green camp.  The former advocated a pardon for former President Chen, and the latter had a strategic alliance with the DPP in one Taipei district.  I’d put all the others in the blue camp.  That produces a blue-green balance of 54.0-46.0%.  At first glance, it doesn’t look like Tsai Ing-wen was able to take any votes from the other side of the political divide.  This presidential election ran along familiar partisan lines.



Turning to the 73 single-member districts, the KMT won these by a 46-27 margin.  (I am counting the two independents as KMT candidates.)  I don’t know the breakdown of party votes for these constituencies yet, but I imagine it is fairly close to the presidential and party list results.  This has turned a small blue camp advantage in votes into a sizeable advantage in seats.

Four years ago, it was assumed that the new electoral system had given the KMT an almost automatic majority in the legislature, and this election seems to confirm that idea.  Even though the election was fairly close, the KMT has easily won a majority.  However, I would argue that the DPP came as close to winning a majority in the legislature as it did to winning the presidential election.

Let’s do a small thought experiment.  Suppose that the DPP had one 1% more of the national vote.  Assume that the actual results already contain all the malapportionment and personal votes, so we simply add 1% to the DPP candidates’ votes and subtract 1% from the KMT candidates’.  If you do this, the DPP wins 5 additional seats, and the overall result is a 41-32 balance.  If we assume that the DPP won 2% more (which was roughly my pre-election guess), add 2 more seats for a 39-34 balance.  If the swing is 3% (putting Tsai and Ma in a dead tie), 4 more seats switch and the green camp wins the SMD seats by 35-38.  In this scenario, the KMT’s advantage in aboriginal seats would still give the blue camp a slight overall edge in the legislature, but let’s remember that in this scenario, the green camp’s overall vote is still slightly below 50% (at 48.6%), so it isn’t unreasonable that their legislative seats are also slightly below 50%.  If you assume the swing is 4% (putting the green camp at nearly 50% of the national vote, the SMD seats go 32-41 for the green camp.  This would be a large enough margin to give them a majority even after the KMT wins all the aboriginal seats.  In sum, the DPP had to win just about the same number of votes to win the legislature as it did the presidency.  It fell short on both counts.


Third party candidates did not hurt the KMT in this election.  There were nine races that the DPP could have stolen because the KMT’s vote was split by a third party candidate.  The KMT only had one opportunity.  However, the DPP only succeeded in one of its nine opportunities (Taitung), while the KMT succeeded in its only opportunity (Kaohsiung 9).

In five of the eight missed opportunities for the DPP, I am surprised by the DPP’s failure to win.  In these cases, if you had told me how much the third party candidate won, I would have confidently predicted a DPP victory.  Instead, very weak performances by these five DPP candidates allowed the KMT to hold these five seats.


district KMT DPP 3rd notes
Taipei 4 48 34 17 missed chance
New Taipei 7 44 43 13 Missed chance
New Taipei 8 48 40 11 Improbable
New Taipei 9 49 28 23 Improbable
New Taipei 12 42 36 21 Missed chance
Taoyuan 5 45 35 19 Improbable
Taichung 8 45 39 16 Missed chance
Changhua 1 35.2 35.0 28 Missed chance
Kaohsiung 9 38 32 27 Steal
Taitung 30 42 28 Steal


I had thought that with the focus so heavily on the presidential elections, the outcomes in the legislative races would be pulled closer to those in the presidential election.  This doesn’t seem to have happened.  At first glance, personal votes are still quite important.  In fact, with the closer national balance, it looks like personal votes were decisive in a number of elections.


Turnout was lower than expected at 74.3%.  Most people had expected something in the range of 78-80%.  At first glance, it looks like the KMT mobilized their best areas better than the DPP.  Turnout is a bit higher in Taipei and New Taipei Cities and a bit lower in Yunlin and Chiayi Counties.  This might simply be an urban/rural divide, but I’d bet that turnout worked slightly in the KMT’s favor overall.  I don’t think that this was sufficient to swing the overall outcome, but that is unknowable.


Finally, as the results of the presidential race slowly solidified, it occurred to me that I have seen this result before with a very similar cast of characters.

  1998 Taipei Mayor % 2012 President %
KMT Ma Ying-jeou 51.1 Ma Ying-jeou 51.6
DPP Chen Shui-bian 45.9 Tsai Ing-wen 45.6
New/PFP Wang Chian-hsuan 3.0 James Soong 2.8

How is that for similarity in what will probably be the first and last elections of Ma Ying-jeou’s career!

Frozen Garlic’s Best Flags of the Year

January 13, 2012

Here at the end of the campaign, it is time for Frozen Garlic’s Second Annual Best Campaign Flags Award Post.  This year has been a fairly miserable year for campaign flags.  On the one hand, the campaigns cut down drastically on the number of flags they produced.  On the other hand, this year has seen some of the ugliest flags in memory.

The color of the year is undoubtedly pink.  Traditional party colors took a beating this year, and many candidates tried to soften their look with pink.  Personally, I like pink.  It’s one of my favorite colors, and I have several pink shirts.  However, I don’t like the specific pink and yellow combination that Tsai Ing-wen and many other DPP candidates used this year.  It seemed harsh and grating to my eyes.

A few who fought against the pink tide but didn’t want to go to the traditional blue or green went instead for yellow.  (The fact that yellow is now a public color, available to everyone, is an indication that the New Party is quite sincerely dead.”

Here is a smattering of pink and yellow.  Quick, without looking at the names, can you tell which party these people are from?

There were a few more traditional looking flags.  At first glance, these flags scream “KMT” or “DPP.”

Interestingly, it was the KMT that tended to go with the traditional blue look.  Far fewer DPP candidates went with a traditional party look.  This is something new.  Over the past two decades, numerous observers have pointed out that KMT candidates “ran away” from their party label, not wishing to put the party symbols on their flags.  DPP candidates, in contrast, have traditionally put the party logo in a prominent place.  Not this year.  This year, DPP candidates were more likely to produce pink or yellow flags instead of something instantly recognizable as a DPP party flag.

I have argued in the past that KMT supporters should be happy that their candidates didn’t sport the party colors too prominently.  That meant that their candidates were appealing to votes beyond the core party supporters.  DPP candidates, on the other hand, were generally just trying to consolidate the party’s existing support.  Now, it seems the roles have been somewhat reversed.

I did see a couple of new things this year.  In this flag, the handwritten characters say “My grandmother was born here.”  There were about half a dozen of these flags on that street.  I’ve never seen flags customized like that for a particular street or neighborhood.  I wonder if she put up similar flags in other neighborhoods.

This morning, I saw this guy standing out in the rain with a signboard.  Apparently, the politicians are taking a cue from the real estate developers with these sorts of signboards.

This is not new this year, but I think it might be unique to Huang Shan-shan.  There are posters in business windows all over this district, and they stay up all year round.  Business owners generally hate to advertise their political leanings, so these posters are a sign of real support.  You occasionally see similar posters for other politicians, but I think the density of these posters is unique to Huang.

This looks like a classic DPP ad.  Lee Chun-ting poses with Tsai Ing-wen and claims to be the next generation of the DPP.  There is just one problem.  He is not a DPP nominee.  This is from Taipei 7, the district in which the DPP didn’t nominate anyone and is instead supporting the Green Party candidate.  I guess Lee decided he would try to win the DPP voters that didn’t want to support the Green Party, which would be a fine strategy if there were 10 seats, not one.

If the Tsai campaign had been planning to promote the Grand Coalition idea all along, this should have been their national logo.  Note the color combination and the characters (sunlight, tolerance, gentle).  This would have been an excellent logo.  I only saw it once.

How about this one: The box on the bottom says that this banner for a DPP candidate was paid for by the Three Piggies.

The first award: Frozen Garlic’s Worst Ad of the Year goes to local candidate Li Chien-chang.  I thought this was an ad for a new movie.  You have to look really hard to even see his name.  I still have no idea what it means or why I should want to vote for him.  Awful.

Runner up: The KMT’s Taiwan Go campaign.  What the hell does this mean?  I think we are all in favor of Taiwan.  This is about as useless as the ubiquitous “Taiwan must win” line in many KMT ads.  What does it mean for Taiwan to win?  Is there some game that I don’t know about?  I know what it means for a candidate to win (which is probably what they really want), but not for a whole society.  Shallow.

Finally, it is time to award the prestigious Best Campaign Flag of the Election Cycle award.  Here are Frozen Garlic’s nominees:

In the year of pink, the bottom two are my two favorite pink flags.  I suppose I like pink and white much better than pink and yellow.  In the upper left, there are two pink flags from Chien Yu-yan, one with her picture and one with her as a Japanese cartoon character (note the same part in her hair and the same bow on her blouse).  The upper right flag is from Lo Fu-chu.  He wins a nomination because (a) his flag looks good, and (b) I’m terrified of him.  My favorite part of this flag is that it has streaks of black running through the red, just in case you forgot about his background.  Finally, Lee Chien-lung wins a nomination for one of the best traditional looking flags.  If you read the fine print, he even slams his opponent for being an interloper.

And the winner is: cartoon Chien Yu-yan!  Congratulations on having the best flag in the year of pink!  Now all she has to do is beat her opponent Lo Shu-lei, whose flags are (of course!) pink.

two thoughts

January 13, 2012

Judging from the campaign advertisements, I’m pretty sure that at least half of the legislature has been judged as “the number one legislator.”  Chiang Nai-hsin 蔣乃辛, who hasn’t even been in for a full term is apparently number one.

Just off the top of my head, here in the Taipei area, incumbents claiming to be number one include Ting Shou-chung 丁守中, Chou Shou-hsun 周守訓, Chiang Nai-hsin 蔣乃辛, Lai Shi-pao 賴士葆, Lin Shu-fen 林淑芬, Li Hung-chun 李鴻鈞, and Lin Hung-chih 林鴻池.  I’m not sure about some of the others; the only ones I can be pretty sure are NOT claiming to be the best are Tsai Cheng-yuan 蔡正元, Chang Ching-chung 張慶忠, and Lee Ching-hua 李慶華, who probably decided that no one would believe such a claim.  Heck, we even have a former legislator (Lin Cho-shui 林濁水) making that claim.  My favorite response comes from Taipei 2 challenger Yao Wen-chih 姚文智, who retorts that his opponent, instead of being the best student, might need to be held back.


Somewhere in the depths of the internet, I ran across this gem.  Now, the law says that we can’t publicize any survey results after Jan 4, so I’m just pointing you to Tsai Cheng-yuan’s 蔡正元 blog.  He released a survey on Jan 3, and I’m scratching my head about it.  He wants to tell Huang Shan-shan 黃珊珊 supporters that their candidate’s cause is hopeless, and they should strategically vote for him to avoid throwing the Taipei 4 seat to the DPP.  However, I think his poll accomplishes the exact opposite.  Tsai and Huang are close enough that if I were a Huang supporter and saw this, I would conclude that the two are close enough that we really can’t be sure that Tsai is the stronger of the two.  In other words, this poll would give me permission to go ahead and vote for Huang.

I don’t know what the Tsai campaign was thinking about.  No one really believes that his own poll numbers announced on his blog are objective or neutral.  Is this the best he could do?  If it were me, I would have cut her support in half before publishing the numbers.  This tells me that Huang is a lot stronger than I thought she was.  Either that, or the Tsai campaign is marked by a bit of incompetence.

Fortunately for them, the counter shows that only 55 people have viewed that post.

Quick thoughts

January 12, 2012

My impression is that both sides are relatively confident they will win the presidential election.  This confidence seems a bit stronger on the blue side.  Whatever the result is on Saturday, the losing side is not going to be psychologically prepared.  Some people are going to be very upset, and some are going to look for a scapegoat.


I was chatting with a good friend about the Taiwanese business voters returning from China.  He made one of the smartest points I have heard in a long time.  The media is suggesting that somewhere around 180,000 people are being mobilized to return.  It is left unsaid that other people might return without being directly mobilized by the KMT, their company, or the PRC.

My friend, who is a blue supporter, dismissed these reports.  All those people have to come back on airplanes, and there simply aren’t that many airplane seats.  He had added up all the airplane seats on flights from China and found that there are only about 40,000 every week.  There are some extra flights being added, but those numbers usually included the added flights all the way up to the New Years holiday.  Moreover, not all of those 40,000 seats are Taiwanese; some who come back on Monday will return to China by Friday; some won’t vote; some will vote for the DPP.  Even if you add in the seats coming from Hong Kong, this picture doesn’t change too much.  In short, there will be a lot fewer voters coming back from China than most people are imagining.  The plausible numbers probably aren’t big enough to affect the election outcome.


I visit a lot of campaign headquarters to collect flags.  I’m not great at the soaking and poking method of field research, and this often just involves me going in, asking for a flag, and leaving.  Many times, they are too busy to pay much attention to me.  Sometimes they treat me like an English opportunity and I leave as fast as I can.  Once in a while, I strike up an interesting conversation or learn something interesting.

Yesterday, I got two very distinct impressions about the elections in New Taipei 6 and 7 (the two Banqiao districts).  D6 is the northern district (which has conventionally and confusingly been labeled the western district even though it is actually more easterly than D7).  I went into the KMT candidate’s office, got my flag, and asked the staffer how the race was going.  She said it was going well, so I challenged her by suggesting that D6 might be a difficult district for them this year.  She looked utterly startled by my suggestion and said, no their race was actually quite easy this year.  Now, campaign workers never say this.  Even when they are going to win easily, they always tell voters that nothing is sure until the votes are counted and people need to come out to vote.  If we have your vote (and the votes of your friends and family), we’ll be all right.  This is simply a reflex response for most campaign workers.  So I pressed a bit more, asking if Ma would get a majority in the district.  At this, she looked knowingly and said, “I don’t know anything about that.”  If past results are any indication, Ma probably won’t get a majority in D6 (and I’m pretty sure she expects Tsai to beat him there).  However, the KMT candidate is so strong that the campaign workers have no sense of urgency at all.  FG conclusion: KMT wins this seat.

Then I went south into D7.  Judging how a campaign is doing by the morale of the staff is dodgy at best.  However, this experience seemed quite telling to me.  First, I went to the independent candidate’s headquarters.  The candidate and his son were arrested last week for vote buying, and I wondered if that had crushed the campaign.  What I found was just the opposite.  The office was full of volunteers who met me (and a couple of actual voters who wandered in) with great enthusiasm.  They dressed me up in a hat and vest and made me take a picture while everyone laughed.  (Hey, look at the goofy foreign monkey!)  When I left, one of them chased me to give me the cup of coffee that I had left behind.  Wow.  If that’s how they deal with all their contacts, that campaign is dynamite.  They certainly did not project the air of a defeated campaign that was just counting down the days to their execution.  Instead, defeatism was exactly the atmosphere I found in the KMT candidate’s headquarters.  When I asked if they were going to win, a question that almost always inspires smiles and affirmative answers, they just gave me a hangdog look and a tired, “We’ll know in three days.”  FG conclusion: The independent candidate will split off lots of KMT votes, and the DPP will win.

I’m pretty sure this is just about the worst possible way to predict outcomes.

This is what will happen! For sure!

January 12, 2012

This is not so much a prediction as a guess.  I don’t really believe that social scientists are in the business of prediction in the same way that the natural sciences are.  However, it is a lot of fun to guess the future.

Taiwanese election results are usually surprising.  I expect to be wrong on several of my guesses.  So this year I am making three different predictions.  First, there is the old traditional guess, which I call “Frozen Garlic’s gut instinct.”  The other two are what I think of as the realistic best-case scenarios for the KMT and DPP.  I understand that “realistic best-case scenario” is a bit of an oxymoron.  The notion here is that these are the most extreme outcomes that I would not find shocking.  That doesn’t mean that these are actually the outer limits; I have been shocked quite a few times just in the past two years.

On the presidential election, my answer seems to change every day.  Some days I think Tsai will eke out a win; other days I think Ma will win.  For some unexplained reason, today I am guessing a Ma victory.  I have a hard time imagining either big party slipping below 45%, so my real prediction is that this will be a very close election.  (I know everyone is stunned by that bold and unexpected prediction!)

On the legislative side, if you add up my gut predictions, you get a narrow blue camp majority.  However, I think anything from a big blue camp majority to a narrow green camp majority is quite possible.

There is a big range between my two “reasonable extremes,” and that is because of a point I have been making for about a year now.  There are a large number of districts that will swing from one party to the other at about the same time the national vote makes the same swing.  So if Ma wins by 5%, expect most of these to swing to the KMT.  If Tsai wins, expect the DPP to win almost all of these swing districts.


  KMT DPP PFP TSU IND blue green
FG gut 49 48 3        
KMT best 53 45 2        
DPP best 47 49 4        
PFP best 47.1 46.9 6        
FG gut 52 52 4 2 3 59 54
KMT best 66 41 2 0 4 72 41
DPP best 46 56 5 2 4 55 58


The breakdown of those totals is as follows:

district   FG gut KMT best DPP best
President K-D-P 49-48-3 53-45-2 47-49-4
. PFP best 47.01-47-6    
Taipei 1 Beitou KMT KMT KMT
Taipei 2 Shilin DPP DPP DPP
Taipei 3 Zhongshan KMT KMT KMT
Taipei 4 Nangang DPP KMT DPP
Taipei 5 Wanhua KMT KMT KMT
Taipei 6 Da-an KMT KMT KMT
Taipei 7 Xinyi KMT KMT KMT
Taipei 8 Wenshan KMT KMT KMT
New Taipei 1 Danshui KMT KMT KMT
New Taipei 2 Luzhou DPP DPP DPP
New Taipei 3 Sanchong DPP KMT DPP
New Taipei 4 Xinzhuang DPP KMT DPP
New Taipei 5 Shulin DPP DPP DPP
New Taipei 6 Banqiao (N) KMT KMT KMT
New Taipei 7 Banqiao (S) DPP DPP DPP
New Taipei 8 Yonghe KMT KMT KMT
New Taipei 9 Zhonghe KMT KMT KMT
New Taipei 10 Tucheng DPP KMT DPP
New Taipei 11 Xindian KMT KMT KMT
New Taipei 12 Xizhi DPP KMT DPP
Jilong   KMT KMT KMT
Taoyuan 1 Guishan KMT KMT KMT
Taoyuan 2 Coast DPP DPP DPP
Taoyuan 3 Zhongli KMT KMT DPP
Taoyuan 4 Taoyuan DPP KMT DPP
Taoyuan 5 Pingzhen KMT KMT KMT
Taoyuan 6 Bade KMT KMT KMT
Hsinchu City   KMT KMT KMT
Hsinchu Cnty   KMT KMT KMT
Miaoli 1 Coast KMT KMT KMT
Miaoli 2 Inland KMT KMT KMT
Taichung 1 Qingshui DPP DPP DPP
Taichung 2 Dadu IND (blue) IND (blue) IND (blue)
Taichung 3 Shengang KMT KMT KMT
Taichung 4 Xitun KMT KMT KMT
Taichung 5 Beitun KMT KMT KMT
Taichung 6 Central DPP KMT DPP
Taichung 7 Dali DPP DPP DPP
Taichung 8 Fengyuan DPP DPP DPP
Changhua 1 Lugang DPP DPP DPP
Changhua 2 Changhua KMT KMT KMT
Changhua 3 Erlin KMT KMT KMT
Changhua 4 Yuanlin KMT KMT KMT
Nantou 1 North KMT KMT KMT
Nantou 2 South KMT KMT KMT
Yunlin 1 Coast DPP KMT DPP
Yunlin 2 Inland DPP DPP DPP
Chiayi 1 coast DPP KMT DPP
Chiayi 2 Inland DPP DPP DPP
Chiayi City   DPP KMT DPP
Tainan 1 Xinying DPP DPP DPP
Tainan 2 Madou DPP DPP DPP
Tainan 3 North DPP DPP DPP
Tainan 4 South DPP DPP DPP
Tainan 5 Yongkang DPP DPP DPP
Kaohsiung 1 Meinong DPP DPP DPP
Kaohsiung 2 Gangshan KMT KMT DPP
Kaohsiung 3 Zuoying KMT KMT KMT
Kaohsiung 4 Daliao DPP DPP DPP
Kaohsiung 5 Gushan DPP DPP DPP
Kaohsiung 6 Sanmin DPP DPP DPP
Kaohsiung 7 Lingya DPP DPP DPP
Kaohsiung 8 Fengshan DPP KMT DPP
Kaohsiung 9 Xiaogang DPP DPP DPP
Pingtung 1 North DPP DPP DPP
Pingtung 2 Pingtung DPP DPP DPP
Pingtung 3 South DPP DPP DPP
Taitung   KMT KMT DPP
Hualien   KMT KMT KMT
Penghu   IND (blue) IND (blue) IND (blue)
Jinmen   KMT KMT PFP
Lienchiang   KMT KMT IND
Plains Abs 1st seat KMT KMT KMT
Plains Abs 2nd seat KMT KMT PFP
Plains Abs 3rd seat PFP IND(not笛布斯) IND (any)
Mountain Abs 1st seat KMT KMT KMT
Mountain Abs 2nd seat KMT KMT KMT
Mountain Abs 3rd seat IND 金 IND 金 PFP
Party list K-D-P-T 14-15-3-2 17-15-2-0 14-16-2-2


Just remember, with roughly 95% certainty, this is all wrong.  And if the dam holding the Feitsiu Reservior breaks, we learn that Ma has a solid gold, diamond-encrusted toilet in his unregistered house in Cayman Islands, or Lee Teng-hui dies and is reincarnated as the 15th Dalai Lama before the election, all bets are off.

The race in Chiayi 1

January 11, 2012

Last weekend we drove through the coastal areas of Chiayi County, and the legislative race there looks intense.  Four years ago, Weng Chung-chun 翁重鈞 (KMT) beat Tsai Chi-fang 蔡啟芳 (DPP) by a margin of 57.5-42.5.  This year is essentially a rematch.  Weng is running for re-election against Tsai’s son, Tsai Yi-yu 蔡易餘.  This district is also interesting because it is one of many in which a KMT incumbent with deep roots is trying to survive in a district that will probably give a substantial majority to the DPP presidential candidate.  If the DPP is going to win or even come close in the legislature, it has to take districts like this away from the KMT.

How green is this district?  Consider that four years ago in the presidential election, Frank Hsieh (DPP) won 55.3% here.  In other words, Weng ran a staggering 12.8% better than Ma Ying-jeou.  However, Tsai Ing-wen will almost certainly do significantly better than Hsieh.  Weng might need to run a full 13% ahead of Ma again, and there is a chance that even that might not be enough.  If the DPP can pull Tsai Yi-yu up closer to Tsai Ing-wen, it has an excellent chance of winning this district.  From the KMT’s point of view, if it loses this district, it will probably never win it back.  The only way it can win here is to have a local giant, and those don’t grow on trees.


Judging by the advertising, this is a very nasty campaign.  Both sides have the standard signs and flags with themselves and a message saying please vote for me.  Both sides feature the presidential candidates in their advertising.  (The importance of that is that Weng is not running away from Ma as might be expected.  He is playing the good party soldier.  In contrast, one district to the north in Yunlin 1, Ma’s picture is nowhere to be found in Chang Chia-chun’s 張嘉郡 advertising.)

But what is really interesting here are the attack ads.  Let’s start with the challengers.  Here, the KMT is accused of not developing the Budai Harbor.  Tsai Yi-yu promises that Tsai Ing-wen will definitely expand the harbor.  In another ad, Tsai mentioned that this harbor would trade directly with China.  (Wow, just what we need: another useless harbor with nothing to export.)   So far, pretty tame.

Here is a real attack.  Weng has been bilking farmers.  (I’m not sure how this is supposed to work.)  If you look closely, you can see the disgusting little bugs crawling over the characters.  In the top right corner, it says, “We have evidence. You are welcome to sue us.”

The Weng campaign replies, they are lying!  We don’t want a family involved in gang shootings and that engages in mudslinging.  In the top right corner, they say that they have already filed a lawsuit against the untruthful accusations.

Finally, the masterpiece.  The Weng campaign found extremely unflattering shots of the two Tsais.  Look at how terrible Tsai Chi-fang’s teeth look!  The picture on the bottom left is of him as a young man at the police station.  In the mid 1980s, Tsai was involved in a crime gang shooting incident.  He is sulking on the right while his father (second right) hands the gun to the police.  (Tsai Chi-fang’s father was vice-speaker of the county assembly.  In fact, he was a member of the KMT’s local Huang Faction, and he was supported by another young member of the Huang Faction: Weng Chung-chun!)  To the right, the ad accuses Tsai Yi-yu of making a lot of money as a lawyer by defending people who dodged their debts.  The ad asks, would you feel safe entrusting Chiayi’s future to these kinds of people?

Isn’t no-holds-barred democracy wonderful?

Fun questions

January 11, 2012

Everyone else wants to guess who will win and how many seats each party will get.  Frozen Garlic doesn’t roll that way.  Here are the questions in the FG prediction contest.

  1. Which party list will get the LEAST votes?
    1. 台灣國民會議
    2. 人民最大黨
    3. 健保免費連線
    4. 中華民國台灣基本法連線
    5. 台灣主義黨
  2. Which ticket will get the highest vote percentage?
    1. KMT in Ma Ying-jeou’s home (Taipei City, Wenshan District 台北市文山區)
    2. KMT in Wu Den-yi’s home (Nantou County, Caotun Township 南投縣草屯鎮)
    3. DPP in Tsai Ing-wen’s home (Pingtung County, Fangshan Township 屏東縣枋山鄉)
    4. DPP in Su Chia-chuan’s home (Pingtung County, Changchi Township 屏東縣長治鄉
  3. The DPP nominated 69 district candidates.  Which one will get the LOWEST vote percentage? (Note: This does not include the Aboriginal candidate.)


If we get a lot of guesses, I’ll come up with new questions tomorrow.

Politics in Taitung County

December 29, 2011

[Warning: This is a long and rambling post.  It may not have a satisfactory conclusion.]

About a week ago, I started wondering about the legislative race in Taitung County 台東縣.  To be quite honest, Taitung has always been one of those places that I more or less ignored.  It doesn’t have that population, wealth, or power; it only elects one legislative seat; it has always been reliably blue; and it’s way off in the remotest corner of the island.  Even the large Aboriginal population works against it for me.  We election analysts tend to ignore Aborigines since the cost of understanding all those very complex societies is very high and the payoff (in terms of understanding overall Taiwanese politics) is quite low.  However, Taitung looks like it might be on the brink of a major political shift.  The DPP barely lost the 2009 county executive race, and then they won the 2010 by-election for the legislative seat.  On the other hand, this might just reflect the personal popularity of those two candidates, Liu Chao-hao 劉櫂豪 and Lie Kuen-cheng[1] 賴坤成, respectively.  Even if that is the case, those are the two main characters in this year’s election, and I realized I knew very little about them.

The story I found was far richer than I could have hoped for.  I like to think of this as a story about coalition-building.  The characters are constantly trying to find a better set of allies, and the formal party lines that are so rigid in most places on the island are much more fungible here.  In fact, this story would be completely unthinkable in Taipei City.

This story touches nearly every major politician in Taitung over the past 20 years, so it might be a bit confusing.  There is a cast of characters at the end, in case you lose track of who is who.

Let’s start in 1991 with the first full National Assembly election.  In that election the DPP had a major breakthrough, as a young lawyer named Lie Kuen-cheng 賴坤成 won one of the three seats and established himself as the DPP’s most successful politician in the county.  In fact, he established himself as the DPP’s only substantial politician in the county.  It was no surprise that the DPP drafted Lie to run for legislator the next year.  Of course he lost to Yao Eng-chi 饒穎奇, already a four-term incumbent who would eventually become Vice-Speaker, but Lie again did fairly well.  In 1995, the DPP tapped Lie to run against Yao again, and again Lie turned in a respectable showing.

In 1994, we meet two new characters, both KMT members who had been in the county assembly since 1986.[2]  Both Liu Chao-chang 劉櫂漳 and Hsu Ching-yuan 徐慶元 wanted to move up to the Provincial Assembly.  Rather than choosing between the two, the KMT allowed both Hsu and Liu to run as KMT candidates.  Without Lie in the race, there was no danger of losing the seat to the DPP, so the KMT just let its two members fight it out.  Hsu won handily.  One might expect that the this contest would sow the seeds of long-term antipathy between Hsu and Liu, but that doesn’t seem to have happened.

Liu Chao-chang managed to keep his career alive by winning a seat in the National Assembly in 1996.

Hsu had a more aggressive career plan.  He decided to run for the county executive in 1997.  Unfortunately, that post was already occupied.  Like Liu and Chang, Chen Chien-nien 陳建年 had also started his career in the county assembly in 1986.  In 1989, the KMT had elevated him to the Provincial Assembly, and in 1993 the KMT had nominated him as county executive.  Chen was the first[3] Aborigine to be elected as county executive anywhere in Taiwan.  In political terms, Chen was classified as a Plains Aborigine, but unlike almost all other Plains Aborigines, Chen was not a member of the Amis 阿美 tribe.  Rather, he was a member of the much smaller Puyuma 卑南 tribe.  As a minority within a minority, his career path would have been impossible without KMT support.  The KMT nominated Chen for re-election in 1997, and Hsu decided to withdraw from the KMT and run as an independent.  Chen eventually won by a mere 1000 votes.

Chen’s victory appears to have been more an indication of his strength than Hsu’s weakness.  In 1998, Hsu ran for the legislature as an independent and won quite handily.  Yao Eng-chi probably saw the writing on the wall.  His vote had been slipping over the previous few elections, and rather than face Hsu, Yao managed to get a spot on the party list.

A few months earlier, the DPP had another breakthrough, as Lie Kuen-cheng managed to win a five-way race for Taitung City mayor with only 36% of the vote.  The Taitung City mayoral post is more important than you might expect because over half of the county’s population lives in Taitung City.

So far nothing really out of the ordinary has happened.  To recap, the DPP was an impotent party unless Lie Kuen-cheng was the candidate.  The greater KMT (what we would now call the blue camp) dominated all elections, and the primary battles were between different KMT figures.  One of these, Hsu Ching-yuan, had established that he could win elections even without the KMT’s nomination.

In fact, the only reason to discuss all this history is to set the stage for what came next.  The 2000 presidential election shocked Taitung politics, though that wouldn’t become apparent until early 2002.  The various Taitung politicians lined up in rather predictable ways for the presidential election.  As the only local champion, Lie ran the local DPP campaign.  County executive Chen Chien-nien ran the KMT campaign.  Hsu Ching-yuan had developed close ties with James Soong during his four years in the Provincial Assembly.  Moreover, as an independent, Hsu was free to openly support Soong.  After the election, Hsu joined the newly formed PFP.  Of course, the DPP won the presidential election and took control of the executive branch.  Perhaps because as a poor county Taitung was more reliant on the central government than other localities, the national DPP would make several attempts to build up the local party.

In December 2001, elections were held for both the legislature and the county executive.  Elections for the county assembly and township mayors were held two months later in January 2002.

Liu Chao-chang 劉櫂漳 decided to run for the legislature.  However, he lost the KMT primary to Huang Chien-ting 黃健庭, who like Liao had been elected to the National Assembly in 1996.  Liao was quite unhappy with the way the party machinery treated him during the primary, and he threatened to run in the general election as an independent.

Meanwhile, the DPP was having a hard time settling on a candidate.  At first, they tried to draft Liu Chao-chang’s younger brother, Liu Chao-hao 劉櫂豪.[4]  Liu Chao-hao was serving as a judge, and, unlike his older brother, the younger Liu was a DPP member.  In fact, the local DPP organization came to an agreement to draft Liu Chao-hao.  However, since the elder Liu was still making plans to run as an independent, Liu Chao-hao was not too enthusiastic about this plan.  Eventually, DPP chair Frank Hsieh 謝長廷 came to Taitung, held a meeting with all the principals, and hammered out a compromise.  Taitung City Mayor Lie Kuen-cheng would run for county executive, and Tian Yong-yan 田永彥,[5] who was Head of the Environmental Protection Department in the county government, would represent the DPP in the legislative election.  Liu Chao-hao would have the option to represent the party in the Taitung City mayoral election if he wanted to run.  This bargain was unstable from the start.  Lie’s chances of winning the election were not great, and he understandably wanted to run for re-election as mayor if he lost.  This bargaining over nominations in 2001 is the first time we see Lie and Liu clashing.  It would not be the last.

Back over on the other side, the KMT finally managed to smooth things out.  Liu Chao-chang agreed not to run for the legislature.  In return, the KMT agreed to nominate him for … Taitung City mayor!!  Instead of being on a collision course against his brother in the legislative race, now Liu seemed to be careening toward an election against his brother in the mayoral race!  (One gets the feeling that these two brothers were maybe not best friends.)

Meanwhile, there was also an election for county executive to think about.  Hsu Ching-yuan had narrowly lost in 1997, and he ran again in 2001, this time under the PFP’s banner.  He was opposed by Lie (DPP) and the KMT’s Wu Chun-li 吳俊立, who was building a power base as speaker of the county assembly.  Interestingly, there seemed to be little cooperation between Hsu Ching-yuan and the PFP legislative candidate, Hsu Rui-gui 許瑞貴.  Both were close to Soong, but the newspaper reports I saw never mentioned them campaigning together and they seemed to have entirely different teams around them.

In the election, the KMT’s Huang Chien-ting was easily elected to the legislature, and Hsu Ching-yuan won control of the county government.  In addition, outgoing county executive Chen Chien-nien won a seat in the legislature on the KMT’s party list.  Then the musical chairs began.

PPF county executive Hsu Ching-yuan announced that his new deputy executive would be DPP member Liu Chao-hao.  In addition, Hsu appointed DPP legislative candidate Tian Yong-yan head of the Agricultural Affairs department.  (Hsu did not have a job for the PFP legislative candidate.)

Then came another shock.  President Chen announced that just elected KMT list legislator Chen Chien-nien would be appointed head of the Aboriginal Affairs Commission.  Chen Chien-nien, whose career had been carefully cultivated by the KMT all those years, suddenly changed sides.  I’m not sure exactly when he quit the KMT and joined the DPP, but he was clearly not a KMT member serving in a DPP government (unlike New Party member and head of the Environmental Protection Commission Hau Lung-pin 郝龍斌).  Chen Chien-nien changed sides entirely.

So at the local level, the PFP seemed to be trying to forge a coalition with the DPP, while at the national level, the DPP was trying to entice KMT figures over to their side.  There would be more of this.  During President Chen’s first term, the DPP made overtures to county assembly speaker Wu Chun-li.  Wu eventually decided not to switch sides, but one of his lieutenants did.  Hsu Rui-gui,[6] who had been the PFP legislative candidate in 2001, got a position at the county assembly under Wu.  In 2004, the DPP suddenly announced that Hsu (who was decidedly not a DPP member at the time) would be drafted as their candidate for the legislature.  County executive Hsu Ching-yuan also encouraged the local PFP to support Hsu Rui-gui.  However, Hsu’s candidacy was unsuccessful; the KMT’s Huang Chien-ting was re-elected rather easily.  Finally, at some point in his term (I’m not sure exactly when), Hsu Ching-yuan announced that he was withdrawing from the PFP and would continue as an independent.

In all of this, you can really see the weight of the (DPP) central government pulling Taitung politicians toward them.  Party boundaries, so rigid in Taipei City, just don’t seem to exert the same constraints in this context.  Instead, the local politicians were trying to forge new coalitions, and the resources of the central government were used to align those new coalitions around the DPP.

I skipped a chapter.  Remember the January 2002 Taitung City mayoral race?  The KMT had agreed to nominate Liu Chao-chang.  Some other local KMT politicians were not thrilled with this, but none of them decided to launch an independent bid.  According to the DPP’s bargain, Liu Chao-hao had the first right of refusal for the DPP’s nomination, but he had been appointed deputy county executive so he could not run.  Instead, the incumbent mayor Lie Kuen-cheng ran for re-election.  We are starting to see a rivalry build between Lie and Liu Chao-hao for supremacy in the Taitung branch of the DPP.  Here was a straight one-on-one contest between Lie and Liu’s older brother.  Lie crushed Liu 57-43%.[7]  Remember, Liu had the advantage of representing the KMT, which was still the far bigger and more popular party in Taitung.  Yet Lie won more votes in the mayoral race than he had two months previously in the county executive race.

In 2005, Hsu Ching-yuan’s local PFP-DPP coalition had been in place for four years, and he faced re-election.  However, at the last minute, he decided not to run for reasons that are not entirely clear to me.  For whatever reason, he decided instead to support his deputy, Liu Chao-hao.  Liu had been a DPP member, but he ran in 2005 as an independent.  In fact, the coalition had largely sloughed off party labels altogether.  It was probably a lot easier to keep people together if PFP supporters didn’t have to support a DPP figure and DPP adherents didn’t have to back a PFP person.  Let’s not forget that at the national level, the blue and green camps were at each others’ throats, and the PFP and DPP were decidedly at odds.  The local DPP supported Liu Chao-hao, but there was some grumbling that the party should have its own candidate carrying the party label.  The local PFP was less supportive.  Hsu Ching-yuan threw himself into the campaign, but several local PFP leaders simply couldn’t stomach supporting another DPP candidate.  They had reluctantly supported Hsu Rui-gui under the DPP banner in the 2004 legislative election and the early 2005 Taitung City mayoral election, and they could not stomach voting for the DPP a third time.

The KMT nominee was speaker Wu Chun-li, who was already dogged by legal problems.[8]  In fact, before the election, people were already speculating that if Wu won, he would be removed from office immediately after taking the oath because of a conviction in a court case.  In fact, that is exactly what happened.  Wu won the election rather easily (59-38%), and then he was immediately removed from office.

This necessitated a by-election.  Wu wanted to run in the by-election, but he eventually saw the better of it and ran his wife, Kuang Li-chen 鄺麗貞, instead.  Liu Chao-hao was enthusiastic for the rematch, and once again, he insisted on running as an independent.  However, this time the DPP insisted that they should have their own candidate.  Since Liu wouldn’t represent them, they drafted Lie Kuen-cheng.  Once again, this put Liu and Lie into direct conflict.  There was doubt within the DPP over this strategy.  Late in the campaign, national party leaders tried to convince Lie to withdraw or at least for the DPP to concentrate its support on Liu.  Lie publicly rejected the appeal, but he may have relaxed his campaign.  Kuang won the by-election convincingly by a 62-28-7% margin over Liu and Lie, respectively.  The local PFP-DPP coalition had failed to perpetuate itself.

At the national level, Chen Chien-nien had to resign his cabinet post.  In 2004, he had managed to get his daughter Chen Ying 陳瑩 elected to the legislature.  She ran in the Plains Aborigines district, and this was the first time the DPP had ever won an Aboriginal seat.  However, Chen Chien-nien was accused of buying votes during the campaign, and he resigned from office in early 2005.  He was eventually sentenced to prison for vote-buying.[9]

As far as I can tell, the DPP offensive to realign Taitung politics came to a halt with the April 2006 by-election.  Unlike in the previous few years, there didn’t seem to be any more KMT figures flirting with the idea of defecting to the other side.  Instead, some of the originally blue politicians went back to the blue side.  The temptation is to conclude that the realignment efforts were a complete failure.  After all, the DPP-PFP coalition failed to win any races in 2004-6.  The only tangible result was Chen Ying’s breakthrough in the Aboriginal legislative election, but that was probably more a product of national realignment efforts than of local maneuverings.  However, this conclusion might be too hasty.  I can generally only see the politicians above the table.  What I don’t see is how voters and local elites re-evaluated their loyalties.  If some of these moved to the green side and stayed there, the early 2000 realignment efforts may have laid a foundation for changes in the post Chen Shui-bian era.

Of course, the story continues.  Two years ago, the DPP had a couple of very strong electoral performances.  After a stormy and controversial term, the KMT decided not to nominate Kuang Li-chen for another term as county executive.  Instead, they persuaded Kuang to switch jobs with legislator Huang Chien-ting.  So in the 2009 county executive race, Huang ran against Liu Chao-hao, who was back for another shot at the office.  Much to many people’s surprise, the election was very close.  Huang only won by 5%.  A couple of months later, a by-election was held to fill Huang’s vacant seat in the legislature.  This time Lie Kun-cheng faced Kuang Li-cheng.  For the first time, the DPP won the Taitung seat, with Lie edging Kuang by 4%.

Both Liu and Lie wanted the DPP’s nomination for this year’s legislative election.  Many people assumed that the incumbent, Lie, would be the nominee, but Liu narrowly beat him out in the telephone surveys and the DPP nominated Liu.  Lie agreed to go north to Hualien and represent the DPP in a strange district.

So this year’s legislative election features three familiar names.  Liu is the DPP candidate, former county executive (for a day) and speaker Wu Chun-li is running an independent candidacy, and the KMT has nominated current speaker Rao Ching-ling 饒慶玲,[10] who is the daughter of old KMT warhorse Yao Eng-chi.

After going through this entire saga, I’m less inclined to see the DPP on the verge of taking over Taitung the way they have taken over Yunlin or Chiayi.  As far as I can tell, the DPP is still a two person party.  They perform well with either Lie Kun-cheng or Liu Chao-hao running, but no one else seems able to match that performance.  Of course, this year Liu is running, so they might well win.  However, unless Tsai Ing-wen’s vote and the party list vote also see significant rises, I’d be inclined to see this more as an indication of Liu’s personal popularity than as an overall party achievement.

Lie Kun-cheng’s electoral performances (single seat races only)

Year office name Name Vote % Win?
1992 legislature 賴坤成 Lie Kuen-cheng 32 N
1995 Legislature 賴坤成 Lie Kuen-cheng 29 N
1998 Taitung City mayor 賴坤成 Lie Kuen-cheng 36 Y
2001 County executive 賴坤成 Lie Kuen-cheng 17 N
2002 Taitung City mayor 賴坤成 Lie Kuen-cheng 57 Y
2006 County executive 賴坤成 Lie Kuen-cheng 7 N
2010 legislature 賴坤成 Lie Kuen-cheng 49 Y

Liu Chao-hao’s electoral performances (single seat races only)

Year Office name Name Vote % Win?
2005 County executive 劉櫂豪 Liu Chao-hao 38 N
2006 County executive 劉櫂豪 Liu Chao-hao 28 N
2009 County executive 劉櫂豪 Liu Chao-hao 47 N

Other DPP electoral performances (single seat races only)

Year office name Name Vote % Win?
1994 Governor 陳定南 Chen Ting-nan 27 N
1994 Provincial Ass. 陳清泉 Chen Ching-chuan 18 N
1996 President 彭明敏 Peng Ming-min 13 N
1997 County executive 黃昭輝 Huang Chao-hui 6 N
1998 legislature 吳秉叡 Wu Ping-rui 22 N
2000 President 陳水扁 Chen Shui-bian 23 Y
2001 legislature 田永彥 Tian Yong-yan 31 N
2004 President 陳水扁 Chen Shui-bian 34 Y
2004 legislature 許瑞貴 Hsu Rui-gui 38 N
2005 Taitung City mayor 許瑞貴 Hsu Rui-gui 35 N
2008 legislature Party list vote 23
2008 president 謝長廷 Frank Hsieh 27 N

Cast of characters:

Name name party Notes
Chen Chien-nien 陳建年 KMT




1986-9: CA

1989-93: PA

1993-2001: County executive

2002-5: Aboriginal Affairs Commission (cabinet)

2004: daughter Chen Ying elected LY

Hsu Ching-yuan 徐慶元 KMT







1994-8: PA

1997: lost county executive

1998-2001: LY

2001-5: county executive

2005: retired

Hsu Rui-gui 許瑞貴 KMT





1990-8: Guanshan town mayor

2001: ran for LY

2004: ran for LY

2005: ran for Taitung City mayor

2005-present: works in county government

Huang Chien-ting 黃健庭 KMT 1996: NA

2001-9: LY

2009: county executive

Kuang Li-chen 鄺麗貞 KMT Husband is Wu Chun-li

2006-9: county executive

2010: loses LY

Lie Kuen-cheng 賴坤成 DPP 1991-6: NA

1992: ran for LY

1995: ran for LY

1998-2005: Taitung City mayor

2001: ran for county executive

2006: ran for county executive

2010-2: LY

2011: lost DPP primary for legislature

Liu Chao-chang 劉櫂漳 KMT







Older brother of Liu Chao-hao

1986-94: CA

1994: ran for PA

1996-2000: NA

2001: lost KMT primary for LY

2002: ran for Taitung City mayor

2005: expelled from KMT for supporting brother

Liu Chao-hao 劉櫂豪 DPP





2001-2: almost ran for LY, mayor

2002-5: deputy county executive

2005: ran for county executive

2006: ran for county executive

2009: ran for county executive

2012: DPP nominee for LY

Rao Ching-ling 饒慶玲 KMT Father is Yao Eng-chi

2005-12: CA (speaker 2009-12)

2012: KMT nominee for LY

Wu Chun-li 吳俊立 KMT






Wife is Kuang Li-chen

1998-2005: CA speaker

2005: county executive

2006-9: wife elected county executive

2010: wife loses LY race

2012: runs for LY as IND

Yao Eng-chi 饒穎奇 KMT 1983-2004: LY (vice speaker 1998-2004)

Daughter is Rao Ching-ling

[1] By normal conventions, his name would be Romanized as Lai Kun-cheng.  I’m following the Legislative Yuan website’s spelling.

[2] Maybe longer.  My records only go back to 1986.

[3] I think he is still the only Aborigine to have held a county or city executive post.

[4] Liu Chao-hao is nearly 20 years younger than his older brother.  They have the same father but different mothers.

[5] Tian Yong-yan started out as You Ching’s 尤清 Executive Secretary in the Taipei County government.  You tried to push his protégé into the legislature in 1995, but Tian could only garner around 6000 votes (running as an independent).  After You’s term expired in 1997, Tian moved to Taitung to work for Chen Chien-nien.  I’m not sure why the KMT stalwart Chen decided to hire the DPP member Tian.

[6] If you had to pick one person to represent the fluid nature of partisan politics in Taitung, Hsu Rui-gui would be your man.  Hsu was elected to two terms as Kuanshan Town mayor (1990-8).  He represented the KMT both times.  In 2001 he was the PFP’s nominee for the legislature.  Then he worked for the (KMT) county assembly speaker.  In 2004 he represented the DPP in the legislative race.  In early 2005, he was the DPP’s candidate for Taitung City mayor.  After that, he joined the (KMT) county government as head of Urban Planning and Development.  He retained this post in 2009 under the new (KMT) county executive.

[7] All in all, Liu Chao-chang has had a fairly miserable political career.  Since leaving the county assembly, the only election he has won was to the National Assembly, which is a pretty useless office.  He has been just strong and ambitious enough to think he can compete, but not strong enough to actually win.  His brother hasn’t won anything either, but Liu Chao-hao did have the good fortune to be appointed deputy county executive and serve for four years in a good office.

[8] During the campaign, Wu committed a fairly egregious vote-buying blunder.  His people bought the votes of some of Liu’s campaign workers, who promptly turned Wu’s people into the police.  The first rule of vote buying is that you have to know whose votes you are buying, and you have to make sure that they are on your side.  This is one of the reasons that the usefulness of vote-buying is limited.

[9] I’m not sure why Chen Ying, as the candidate, was not sentenced.  She retained her seat and was then re-elected in 2008, this time on the DPP party list.

[10] Who knows how she spells her name.  Maybe she will perpetuate her father’s crazy spelling.  Until she gets elected, I’ll spell her name as I like