the PFP wants to play, too

August 7, 2011


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
Lianjiang 陳雪生 Chen Hsueh-sheng  
Kaohsiung 3 黎建南 Lee Chien-nan  
Hsinchu County 張碧琴 Chang Bi-chin Ex CA speaker



some of the races

July 3, 2011

Today I’m going to write a bit about some of the more interesting district races.  If I have time, I might also say something about the DPP’s party list.  However, since I generally don’t like to react too quickly to news events, I might leave that to a later date.



Taipei City 4

This is a district with a clear and consistent Blue majority.  In a one on one race, the KMT should always win this district.  However, the Blue camp may or may not end up with one candidate.

The KMT incumbent is Tsai Cheng-yuan 蔡正元, and he wants to run for re-election.  However, he was convicted of embezzlement and, according to the KMT rules, he was ineligible to contest the KMT’s primary.  Tsai never wavered in his determination to seek re-election.  He covered the district with ads trumpeting all his achievements, and it seemed quite likely to me that if the KMT nominated someone else he might still run as an independent.

Two KMT city council members openly considered contesting the nomination.  Wu Shih-cheng 吳世正 eventually dropped out, and Li Yan-hsiu 李彥秀 was the only person to formally register for the nomination.  According to the KMT rules, if there is only one candidate, a telephone survey is still necessary.  That candidate must win at least 40% support to get the nomination.  40% is quite a high threshold.  In several districts, we have seen “I don’t know” or “none of the above” win the race, but that didn’t affect the results with two or more candidates.  In a single candidate race, it was no easy task for Li to get 40% support, especially with Tsai looming in the background.  So Li and Tsai both campaigned hard (even though Tsai wasn’t actually in the contest).  From his point of view, he didn’t want the KMT to nominate anyone.  If they didn’t have a nominee, they might eventually just have left the district open for him as an independent ally.  On the other hand, if the KMT nominated Li, Tsai would be faced with expulsion from the party and a very tough three way race.  In this scenario, the most likely outcome may have been a DPP win.  The green camp should probably get somewhere around 40-45%, and it seems unlikely that either Tsai or Li would have been able to push the other one under 15%.  In the event, Li managed to pass the threshold fairly convincingly, with nearly 50% support.  It seemed we were headed into that three way race.

However, something interesting happened.  The KMT did not immediately announce Li’s nomination (as they did in several other districts right after the survey was completed).  Instead, they waited.  And then the court ruled on the appeal to Tsai’s court case and declared him not guilty.  Suddenly, there were no obstacles to Tsai receiving the KMT nomination.  And immediately, the KMT started to prevaricate, sending out suggestions that they might rerun the primary.  Li wanted no part of this.  From her point of view, she had played by the rules and won, and now she wanted the nomination.  However, the KMT eventually announce that it would hold a new survey with both Li and Tsai.  Again, this was intensely contested, and Tsai eventually won by about 1%.  This time, the KMT immediately announced the results and officially nominated Tsai.  It seems pretty clear that the KMT really wanted Tsai to win the nomination all along.

We haven’t heard much from Li since the contest ended.  There are clearly lots of bad feelings between her and Tsai, but the question is whether she will run against him in the general election.  I think the odds are against it.  She would have to quit the KMT and run against the party nominee in a single seat race, which is no easy task for even the strongest incumbents, much less a city council member.

But wait, there’s more.  After Tsai’s nomination was announced, he was convicted in another case.  This hasn’t inspired the KMT to retract his nomination, but it would give any other blue candidate more ammunition in the general election.

Even if Li decides not to run, there is another possible blue candidate lurking in the wings.  The PFP has announced its intentions to run candidates in several districts as a response the KMT’s blatant efforts to marginalize it.  In 2008, the KMT gave the PFP four spots on its party list and nominated a few PFP figures in the districts.  This year, the KMT has given the PFP almost nothing.  So the PFP is responding by threatening to run candidates, who might draw enough votes to cause the KMT candidates to lose.  One of the PFP’s best politicians is from Taipei 4.  City council member Huang Shan-shan 黃珊珊 is a very respected lawyer.  She also has no ethics questions surrounding her, unlike the KMT nominee.  It is quite easy to imagine her drawing 15-20% of the vote if she runs.  Of course, it is not clear as of now that she will eventually run; the PFP-KMT bargaining game is still playing out.

So we might eventually end up with a straight one on one race, in which case the KMT should win easily.  We also might end up with a three way race, in which the DPP might be able to steal this seat.  Either way, it has already been more dramatic than expected.


Taoyuan 5

Taoyuan 5 is not merely a solidly blue district, it is closer to impregnable.  Even in a three way race with the two blue candidates evenly dividing up their votes, the DPP might not have enough votes to win.  So again, the drama is all in the blue camp.

Chu Feng-chih 朱鳳芝 is the incumbent.  She was first elected in 1989 and is now the second most senior person in the entire legislature.  (Speaker Wang Jin-pyng is far ahead of everyone else; he was elected in 1975.)  She came out of the Huang Fu-hsing party branch (the branch for military veterans), and Taoyuan 5 has plenty of retired soldiers, mainlanders, and loyal KMT supporters, so this district should fit Chu very well.  However, much to everyone’s surprise, Chu did not win the party primary.  Instead, the mayor of Pingzhen Township, Chen Wan-de 陳萬得, beat her in the telephone survey.  The KMT duly nominated Chen, and Chu’s only hope to prolong her career seemed to be in convincing the KMT to put her on the party list.

However, Chen was subsequently convicted in a civil case over a financial dispute, and he eventually gave up his nomination.  (One imagines heavy party pressure behind the scenes.)  The KMT has not yet announced a new nominee or even how it will decide on its new nominee.

Chu is back in the picture.  However, she has made it clear that she will accept the KMT’s nomination only if they simply give it to her.  She will not participate in any contest for the nomination.  The KMT seems to want to nominate her, but the fact that she participated in and lost the primary is inconvenient.

Chen also hasn’t completely given up.  He might not be running, but he has chosen that old chestnut of Taiwanese electoral politics: ask voters to prove your innocence by voting for your wife.  In other words, while Chen is too tainted to be presentable, his wife is perfectly clean and innocent.  (Note: please reread the previous sentence with a heavy dose of sarcasm.  Much better.)

No matter how this race turns out, the seat will probably end up in the blue camp’s hands.  In fact, the DPP hasn’t even bothered to nominate anyone yet.


Taoyuan 3

Taoyuan 3 has a similar partisan distribution to Taoyuan 5: the blue camp should always win this race, even with two blue candidates.  Inexplicably, the incumbent is a DPP member.  As readers doubtless remember, the DPP won this district in early 2010 in a by-election.  That by-election was, in many ways, the perfect storm.  The KMT nominated an outsider, Apollo Chen 陳學聖, without extensive ties in the district and who had not won the (advisory) surveys conducted prior to the election.  A local politician who had wanted the nomination ran against him and took a fair share of votes.  The DPP nominated a local politician who had extensive local ties but not enough partisan coloration to arouse the loyal blue voters to action.  And in a by-election, the KMT had a very difficult time motivating voters to get out and vote.  With the low turnout, a split KMT vote, and a weak KMT candidate, the DPP candidate somehow squeezed out a victory.  My immediate reaction: enjoy the rest of this term because the DPP will never be able to hold this seat.

A year and a half later, there is an outside chance that the DPP might hold Taoyuan 3.  It is not that the DPP has suddenly become more popular in the district, but that the KMT seems to be repeating all its mistakes from the by-election.  Apollo Chen (and yes, I feel silly every time I write the name Apollo), unbowed by his humiliating defeat in 2010, decided to try again.  His main opponent this time was no mere local politician, but Cheng Chin-ling 鄭金玲, who has served in the Provincial Assembly and legislature since 1994.  Chen managed to beat Cheng in the telephone surveys, but Cheng announced immediately that she would run in the general election, where she will doubtless be a formidable opponent.

(In a somewhat surprising way, Chen might be the beneficiary of the district lines drawn by the DPP that weakened the KMT in this district.  Chen is an interloper; he started his career in Taipei City and only moved to Taoyuan after losing his re-election bid to the legislature in 2004.  He threw his lot in with Eric Chu, who was then county executive.  However, when Chu moved on to the vice-premiership and mayor of New Taipei City, Chen stayed behind in Taoyuan.  I’m guessing his core support is a mixture of loyal KMT voters and people involved in the business-construction state.  Cheng, on the other hand, is a military politician.  She, like Chu Feng-chih, draws her support from military veterans, their families, and mainlanders.  Taoyuan 3 is centered on Zhongli City, which has a large military presence.  However, Zhongli is too big to be a single district, so it had to be divided.  The DPP plan cut many of these military areas off and put them in the neighboring Taoyuan 6.  The KMT still has overwhelming support in the remaining areas of Zhongli, but the proportion of military veterans and mainlanders is significantly lower.  If the KMT redistricting plan, which left the military areas in district 3, had been adopted, Cheng almost certainly would have been able to beat Chen for the nomination.  On the other hand, the DPP would never have won the by-election in the first place, so Chen might already be the incumbent.)

I haven’t heard anything about this race in a month or two, so I assume Cheng still plans to run.  She will be a stronger opponent than the local politician who split the KMT vote in the by-election, but I think it is still highly unlikely that the DPP can steal this election again.  First, the turnout rate will be higher.  Second, the stakes will be higher.  In the by-election, only four seats were up for election, and there was no question of the KMT losing power.  That will not be so clear this time.  Third, the concurrent presidential election will polarize the electorate along party lines.  All of this works against the DPP in Taoyuan 3.  On the other hand, the fact that there is even a sliver of hope in this district is a major victory for the DPP.





















LY nominations (so far)

June 5, 2011

Nominations for the legislative election are taking shape, so I’ve collected some data on the official nominations thus far.  Some of the other nominations are basically set, but these are the ones that the KMT and DPP have officially announced.

Just for fun, I’ve also listed my guess as to how each race will turn out.  Each race is given one of seven ratings, including Green 3 (nearly certain DPP victory), Green 2 (probable DPP victory), Green 1 (slight advantage to DPP), even (self-explanatory), and Blue 1-3 (figure it out, genius).  This is based on the strength of the candidates, the partisan balance in the district, the presidential race, today’s temperature and humidity, the bitterness of the coffee I’m drinking, and about four seconds of reflection on each race.  If I were to go back and redo this tomorrow, I’d probably come up with something slightly different.

So far, the most important trend in nominations has been that many incumbents faced serious challenges for their party’s nomination.  This is somewhat new in Taiwan.  In the past with the old electoral system, incumbents were nearly universally renominated.  As I increasingly dislike this new electoral system, I find myself hoping that the next legislature will consider changing it because they fear that they will be the next to lose a primary battle.

Thus far, incumbents who lost their primary fight or probably would have liked to run for re-election but decided to yield before the primary fight include Chu Feng-chih 朱鳳芝 (KMT, Taoyuan 5), John Chiang 蔣孝嚴 (KMT, Taipei 3), Lee Hung-chun 李鴻鈞 (KMT, New Taipei 4), Wu Ching-chih 吳清池 (KMT, New Taipei 7), Lee Chun-yi 李俊毅 (DPP, Tainan 5), Lee Fu-hsing 李復興 (KMT, Kaohsiung 7), Lie Kuen-cheng 賴坤成 (DPP, Taidong).  Several others had to fight off intense challenges, including Justin Chou 周守訓 (KMT, Taipei 2), Tsai Cheng-yuan 蔡正元 (KMT, Taipei 4), Kuo Jung-chung 郭榮宗 (DPP, Taoyuan 2), Cheng Ru-fen 鄭汝芬 (KMT, Changhua 3), Hsu Tain-tsair 許添財 (DPP, Tainan 4), and probably some others that I can’t think of right now.

Another random thought: I’m not sure the telephone survey system is working as well as it has in the past.  I’m getting the feeling that the political community doesn’t like the results they are getting and might be ready to try some other method of choosing candidates.  It might be that they simply need to readjust the scoring system to give more weight to the preferences of party supporters.  However, I wonder if the next big change might not be an attempt to try some actual voting, perhaps by copying the American example of having the state run primary elections.  No one has brought this up yet, but that seems to me to be the logical next step in the evolution of candidate selection here in Taiwan.

I really shouldn’t say anything in public about the case of Liao Cheng-ching 廖正井, whose conviction for vote buying was thrown out on a technicality by the appeals court.  Let’s just say that I’m disgusted with the ruling and appalled that the KMT is seriously considering nominating him to run for his old seat.  I’ll stop there.

(Candidates updated June 15. Race evaluations not changed.)

District KMT DPP FG guess
Taipei 1 丁守中 Ting Shou-chung Blue2
Taipei 2 周守訓 Justin Chou 姚文智 Yao Wen-chih Green2
Taipei 3 羅淑蕾 Lo Shu-lei 簡余晏 Chien Yu-yan Blue2
Taipei 4 蔡正元 Tsai Cheng-yuan 李建昌 Li Chien-chang Blue2
Taipei 5 林郁方 Lin Yu-fang 顏聖冠 Yan Sheng-guan Blue2
Taipei 6 蔣乃辛 Chiang Nai-shin 趙士強 George Chao Blue3
Taipei 7 費鴻泰 Alex Fai Blue3
Taipei 8 賴士葆 Lai Shyh-bao Blue3
N. Taipei 1 吳育昇 Wu Yu-sheng 何博文 Ho Bo-wen Blue2
N. Taipei 2 錢薇娟 Chien Wei-chuan 林淑芬 Lin Shu-fen Green2
N. Taipei 3 李乾龍 Li Chien-lung 高志鵬 Gao Jyh-peng Green2
N. Taipei 4 林濁水 Lin Cho-shui Even
N. Taipei 5 黃志雄 Huang Chih-hsiung 廖本煙 Liao Pen-yen Green1
N. Taipei 6 林鴻池 Lin Hung-chih 周雅淑 Chou Ya-shu Blue1
N. Taipei 7  羅致政  Lo Chih-cheng Blue1
N. Taipei 8 張慶忠 Chang Ching-chung Blue3
N. Taipei 9 林德福 Lin Te-fu Blue3
N. Taipei 10 盧嘉辰 Lu Chia-chen  莊碩漢  Chuang Suo-hang Blue1
N. Taipei 11 羅明才 Lo Ming-tsai  高建智  Kao Chien-chih Blue3
N. Taipei 12 李慶華 Lee Ching-hua  沈發惠  Shen Fa-hui Blue3
Ilan 林建榮 Lin Chien-jung 陳歐珀 Chen Ou-po Green1
Taoyuan 1 陳根德 Chen Ken-te Blue2
Taoyuan 2 郭榮宗 Kuo Jung-chung Green2
Taoyuan 3 陳學聖 Apollo Chen 黃仁杼 Huang Jen-shu Blue2
Taoyuan 4 楊麗環 Yang Li-huan 黃適卓 David Huang Blue1
Taoyuan 5 陳萬得 Chen Wan-te Blue2
Taoyuan 6 孫大千 Sun Ta-chien Blue3
Hsinchu Cnty 徐欣瑩 Hsu Hsin-ying 彭紹瑾 Perng Shaw-jiin Blue1
Miaoli 1 陳超明 Chen Chao-ming 杜文卿 Tu Wen-ching Blue1
Miaoli 2 徐耀昌 Hsu Yao-chang 楊長鎮 Yang Chang-chen Blue3
Taichung 1 陳添旺 Chen Tien-wang 蔡其昌 Tsai Chi-chang Green2
Taichung 2 李順涼 Li Shun-liang Blue2
Taichung 3 楊瓊瓔 Yang Chiung-ying 童瑞陽 Tong Rui-yang Blue1
Taichung 4 蔡錦隆 Tsai Chin-lung  張廖萬堅  Chang Liao Wan-chien Blue2
Taichung 5 盧秀燕 Lu Shiow-yen  謝明源  Hsieh Ming-yuan Blue2
Taichung 6 黃義交 Hwang Yih-jiau 林佳龍  Lin Chia-lung Even
Taichung 7 簡肇棟 Chien Chao-tung Green1
Taichung 8 江啟臣 Chiang Chi-chen 郭俊銘 Kuo Chun-ming Green1
Changhua 1 王惠美 Wang Hui-mei 陳進丁 Chen Chin-ting Green1
Changhua 2 林滄敏 Lin Tsang-min 黃秀芳 Huang Hsiu-fang Blue2
Changhua 3 鄭汝芬 Cheng Ru-fen 江昭儀 Chiang Chao-i Blue2
Changhua 4 蕭景田 Hsiao Ching-tien  魏明谷  Wei Ming-ku Blue2
Nantou 1 馬文君 Ma Wen-chun 張國鑫  Chang Kuo-hsin Blue2
Nantou 2 林明湊 Lin Ming-chen  賴燕雪  Lai Yen-hsueh Blue2
Yunlin 1 張嘉郡 Chang Chia-chun  陳憲中  Chen Hsien-chung Green1
Yunlin 2 劉建國 Liu Chien-kuo Green2
Chiayi Cnty 1  蔡易餘  Tsai Yi-yu Green2
Chiayi Cnty 2 陳明文 Chen Ming-wen Green3
Tainan 1 葉宜津 Yeh Yi-jin Green3
Tainan 2 黃偉哲 Huang Wei-cher Green3
Tainan 3 陳亭妃 Chen Ting-fei Green2
Tainan 4 許添財 Hsu Tain-tsair Green2
Tainan 5 李全教 Lee Chuan-chiao Green1
Kaohsiung 1 鍾紹和 Chung Shao-ho 邱議瑩 Chiu Yu-ying Even
Kaohsiung 2 林益世 Lin Yi-shih 邱志偉 Chiu Chih-wei Even
Kaohsiung 3 黃昭順 Huang Chao-shun 林瑩蓉 Ling Ying-jung Blue2
Kaohsiung 4 邱于軒 Chiu Yu-hsuan 林岱華 Lin Tai-hua Green2
Kaohsiung 5 羅世雄 Lwo Shih-hsiung 管碧玲 Kuan Bi-ling Green1
Kaohsiung 6 侯彩鳳 Ho Tsai-feng 李昆澤 Lee Kun-tse Green1
Kaohsiung 7 邱毅 Chou Yi 趙天麟 Chao Tien-lin Green2
Kaohsiung 8 江玲君 Chiang Lin-chun 許智傑 Hsu Chih-chieh Blue1
Kaohsiung 9 郭玟成 Kuo Wen-cheng Green2
Pingdong 1 羅志明 Lo Chih-ming 蘇震清 Su Chen-ching Green2
Pingdong 2 王進士 Wang Chin-shi 李世斌 Li Shih-bin Even
Pingdong 3 潘孟安 Pan Men-an Green3
Taidong 劉櫂豪 Liu Chao-hao Blue1
Hualian 王廷升 Wang Ting-son 賴坤成 Lie Kuen-cheng Blue3
Penghu 湯曜 Tang Yao Blue2
Jilong 謝國樑 Hsieh Kuo-liang Blue3
Hsinchu City 呂學樟 Lu Hsueh-chang 張學舜 Chang Hsueh-shun Blue3
Chiayi City 江義雄 Chiang Yi-hsiung 李俊俋 Li Chun-yi Green1
Jinmen 楊應雄 Yang Ying-hsiung Blue3
Lianjiang 曹爾忠 Tsao Erh-chang Blue3
Plains Abs. 廖國棟 Liao Kuo-tung
鄭天財 Cheng Tien-tsai
Mountain Abs. 孔文吉 Kung Wen-chi
簡東明 Chien Tung-ming

KMT telephone primary rules

April 19, 2011

The KMT recently announced rules for its telephone surveys.  85% of the result will be based on comparisons between each of the KMT candidate and the DPP nominee.  Green camp supporters will be included in these calculations.  The other 15% will be determined by a direct comparison among the KMT contestants.  In this section, green camp supporters’ opinions will not be considered.

This controversy is being reported in the context of  Taipei City 3 (Zhongshan-Songshan), and I’m not sure if it applies to all races, only races in Taipei City, or just this race.  Luo Shu-lei 羅淑雷 expressed satisfaction with these new rules.  She expects to do better among the undecideds and green supporters, and was against any efforts to exclude their opinions.

manipulation and DPP telephone surveys

April 15, 2011

Right now there is a controversy stewing over the DPP’s telephone polls for the presidential primary.  It seems that some people (and most people are pointing at Tsai Ing-wen’s supporters) are telling their supporters to only support Tsai.  Other people seem to think that this is a betrayal of democratic ideals.  I think there are (at least) two ways to think about this.

But first, let’s look at the rules.  According to the DPP rules, presidential nomination polls must compare the DPP contestants to the KMT candidate, not to each other.  So each respondent is asked for his or her preference on Su vs. Ma, Tsai vs. Ma, and Hsu vs. Ma.  The respondents are not asked which of the three DPP contestants they like the best.  If only one DPP contestant beats Ma, that person wins the nomination.  If more than one beats Ma or if no one beats Ma, then the person with the highest percentage of supporters wins.  If there are two people tied, then the person with the largest advantage (or smallest deficit) over Ma wins.  However, ties are extremely unlikely since they will figure each person’s support out to four decimal places.

Let’s think about this from a DPP supporter’s point of view.  You prefer Su to Ma, and you prefer Tsai to Ma.  Essentially, your response has no impact at all on the result of the nomination contest because you have raised both candidates’ support by an equal amount.  However, what if you strongly prefer one to the other?  Without loss of generality, let’s suppose you strongly prefer Tsai to Su, but you also prefer Su to Ma.  The only way you can help Tsai to win the nomination is to not express support for Su.  Is this unethical?  I don’t think so.  Every election has strategic voting, and this is just another form of strategic voting.  Moreover, these strategic voters don’t have to actually support Ma.  They merely decline to answer the Ma vs. Su question.  This is sufficient to make their preferred outcome more likely.

From the DPP’s point of view, things are a bit murkier.  The DPP rules are set up to privilege moderate swing voters, not their core party supporters.  That is, the DPP made a strategic choice to let swing voters choose their party nominee because that should maximize their chances of winning the general election.  However, their core supporters might not appreciate effectively being told that they don’t matter, and those supporters might respond strategically, as described above, in an effort to play a more decisive role in the nomination process.  So party supporters are effectively subverting the party’s strategic decision to marginalize them.  This does not seem surprising to me.  Why should the people who care most passionately about the DPP not be intensely interested in who it nominates?  I think the DPP rules create incentives that most supporters should not be terribly happy with.

There is something else going on that I find much more interesting.  One DPP member is accusing another of instructing supporters not only to answer that they only support Tsai, but also to misrepresent their age.  Why would you want to misrepresent your age?  This has to do with survey methodology.  Your goal is to infer from the survey respondents what the general population looks like.  Unfortunately, your survey sample (the people you actually interview) rarely looks exactly like the general population.  On some variables, such as age, sex, and geographical distribution, we have very good statistics about what the population looks like.  So we have a pretty good idea if there are too many men or too many senior citizens in the sample.  The usual way to deal with this is to weight the sample.  Suppose people 60 and over are 10% of the total population and you interview 1000 people.  Your sample should have 100 respondents aged 60 and up.  However, suppose you actually only interview 80 such people.  The idea behind weighting is to inflate these 80 people so that they represent the 100 people you should have.  So you multiply each of them by 1.25.  Likewise, if you are supposed to have 200 people aged 30-40 and your sample actually includes 250 such people.  You would multiply each of them by 0.8.  So the devious strategy is to lie about you age and put yourself into one of the chronically underrepresented categories (which if memory serves me correctly are almost always 20-30 and 60+) so that your answer gets inflated, not deflated.

Well, now this is blatant manipulation.  However, there really isn’t much the DPP can do about it.  Once the public learns this trick, the only thing the DPP can do is to stop weighting, which makes the overall results less accurate.  Eventually, I wonder if this (as well as the feeling that strategic voting is immoral or otherwise undesirable) won’t be the eventual catalysts for the DPP (and maybe the KMT) to move away from telephone surveys.

2nd DPP presidential debate

April 14, 2011

Today I write through the haze of severe jetlag.  I’m supposed to be experienced at dealing with time travel by now, but for some reason, this is one of the worst cases I have ever had.  So if I am not entirely lucid, bear with me.


I want to comment briefly on the second DPP presidential debate, which was held last night.  Everyone else is talking about Su’s claim that he is the victim of dirty tricks or that no one is answering the questions raised by Hsu Hsin-liang.  I’m not terribly interested in either one of these things.  The former happens in nearly every intensely contested race, and there really is no reason for either Tsai or Su to lose focus and allow Hsu to steer the debate.

Instead, I want to talk about two things.  One is perhaps important.  The other is not.

The most revealing comment (in my opinion) last night came from Su Tseng-chang.  In a question about rising prices, Su said two notable things.  First, he suggested that the government should actively try to keep hot money out of Taiwan, as this destabilizes the economy in general and prices in particular.  Calling international capital “hot money” is, in and of itself, a revealing statement.  “Hot money” has very negative connotations, and suggests that Su believes it is generally more harmful than beneficial.  If you believe the opposite, you call it international investment or some better sounding term.  I had always thought of Su as fairly pro-business, but this statement sounded quite skeptical of free-market economics to me.  I don’t know that Su intended for viewers to extrapolate from this one little answer about his more general attitudes toward capitalism, but it seemed revealing to me.

Su followed that up by suggesting that state-owned enterprises could be used to prevent rises in commodity prices.  I didn’t get the exact details, but I think he suggested that state-owned companies should simply resist raising prices on commodities such sugar, salt, grain, and oil when the international prices shoot up.  I think he meant that they shouldn’t follow short-term spikes, and not that they shouldn’t raise their prices when commodity prices go up for long-periods.  Again, this answer suggests that Su is skeptical of letting market forces have free reign.  Instead, the government has a legitimate role in intervening in the market to ensure public goals are not sacrificed.

Again, this is interesting to me because I did not think that Su espoused these sorts of ideas.  This puts him much closer to (my understanding of) Tsai Ing-wen’s view of the market) than I had previously imagined.

There was also a nice contrast with Hsu Hsin-liang.  While Su voiced caution toward hot money, Hsu positively welcomed it.  Of course, he didn’t call it hot money.  He called it capital investments from China, and he said enthusiastically that this could double the value of the stock market.  How could this be bad, he asked?  (I think Ma Ying-jeou’s stance is fairly close to Hsu’s.)


The other thing that struck me about the debate was what a lousy job ETV (東森) did in hosting it.  They had technical difficulties with their broadcast.  That was forgivable.  Their host would not stop talking.  She seemed to think that she was the star of the debate.  I kept yelling at her to shut up and to let the politicians talk, but she ignored me.  ETV also had a very annoying 10 second intro graphic to the questions that they played every time.  Once was enough.  Twice was annoying.  The third through ninth times just made me madder and madder.  But the worst thing was that they completely butchered the questions from the public.  Somehow, Hsu got three questions about diplomacy or national security, Su got three questions about economics, and Tsai got three questions about disadvantaged groups in society.  What the hell?  I hope they assigned these questions randomly.  If they didn’t, they would have to be willfully incompetent.  Even if they just pulled the questions out of a hat, they are still negligent.  How hard would it have been to separate the questions into three general categories so that each candidate would get a variety of different questions?  Tsai was particularly hurt by this since she was sidetracked on secondary issues such as whether to lower the voting age to 18 the whole debate.  Sure enough, today’s United Daily News makes it look as if she was lacking in content.  Of course she was.  She was never asked to talk about the economy or national security!  (She compounded this by wasting about a fourth of her opening and closing remarks on contentless platitudes.)  ETV, you should be embarrassed.


redistricting in Taipei City

March 24, 2011

Rather than continue to write what is proving not to be the most inspired professional paper of my career, I thought I’d take a break and write something for ye olde bloggue.  And while I could write about who is running and who is not, reporting on breaking news is not really my forte.  If you haven’t noticed by now, this blog is always at least a couple of days out of date.  That’s partially by design.  Anyway, enough blathering.  Onto redistricting in Taipei City!

(If you haven’t read the post on redistricting in Taipei County, you might want to do that first.)

Remember the rules.  Populations can’t deviate from the mean by more than 15%.  You can’t cut up administrative districts unless they exceed 115% of the average electoral district.  Everything has to be contiguous.  And you have to take into account geography, transportation networks, historical legacies and such.  In other words, you can’t stick strange areas together.

That second rule, about cutting up administrative districts, is useless in Taipei.  Taipei has 12 administrative districts, and 8 electoral districts.  None of the administrative districts is big enough to cut by that rule, but you can’t draw eight equally sized districts without cutting something.  So basically you are free to do as you please on that count.  This gives you a lot of freedom to maneuver.  When I discussed Taipei County, the size of townships eliminated most of the designers’ freedom to produce different sorts of plans.  In Taipei City, you could go in lots of different directions.

The plan produced by the Taipei City Election Commission sailed through the political process with minimal challenges, and this is the plan that we live under today.  This plan has clear advantages for the KMT.  (Note: I use KMT and blue camp interchangeably  Same for DPP and green camp.)

First, look at how reasonable the lines appear at first glance.  These are not weird shapes.  They basically follow administrative lines or cut districts into recognizable pieces.  If you are inclined to scream unfair, remember that before we start digging into the politics, this plan doesn’t hit you in the face with obvious political manipulation.

Second, a little about basic partisan geography.  The KMT is dominant in the southern part of the city.  It doesn’t matter how you arrange Wenshan, Da-an, Zhongzheng, and Xinyi; the KMT will have an easy majority no matter what you do.  The KMT also has a big majority in Neihu.  The DPP is stronger along the river (the western border) and toward the north.  The DPP only has a clear majority in Datong and in the Shezi part of Shilin.  However, there are lots of areas that can go either way.  Most of Wanhua, Zhongshan, the rest of Shilin, Beitou, and smaller parts of other areas are basically tossup areas or only lean slightly to the KMT.  So the real question is how to draw the lines in northwest half of the city.

Third, for illustrative purposes, I’m going to use Su Tseng-chang’s vote in the 2010 mayoral race.  In my academic stuff, I’m looking at the 2004 legislative race since that’s what the planners had at hand.  However, here I’m going to do things a bit differently just for fun.  It doesn’t really make much difference.  Partisan patterns in Taipei City are very stable.  Anyway, Su’s election is not quite a high water mark for the DPP, but it is a very good result.  If they are going to win seats, they aren’t going to have many more votes than this to work with.    I’m also going to be using different numbers to estimate population sizes.  The official plan lists the populations of each district, but I don’t have access to the population numbers at the li level, so I’m going to be using eligible voters.    (Yes, all very quick and dirty.)

Note how the official plan made really small districts where the KMT was strong:

Su % Eligible voters Official population
D1 47.6 261935 2.4 334363 2.7
D2 55.1 255988 0.0 325598 0.0
D3 44.0 276678 8.2 345086 6.0
D4 42.2 293352 14.7 371665 14.1
D5 46.6 239425 -6.4 307963 -5.4
D6 37.5 241754 -5.5 311626 -4.3
D7 41.1 240406 -6.0 308313 -5.3
D8 35.0 236387 -7.6 300300 -7.8

D6, D7, and D8 are all KMT strongholds and undersized, and they seem to have gotten even smaller over the past four years (or maybe there is something systematically different between population in 2006 and eligible voters in 2010).  But this isn’t too bad, and the biggest district (D4) is also a fairly safe KMT district.  So maybe I’m making too much of this except in one case, which I will discuss below.

You can see why all the DPP politicians want to represent D2.  It’s the only one that Su won, and he won it handily.  D1 and D5 are within shouting distance, but they still lean clearly to the KMT (and remember that this was a good year for the DPP).  They have to be considered unlikely, though possible, for DPP candidates.  The other five districts are probably impossible.  In the parlance of redistricting, this is a classic packing plan.  The KMT took the DPP’s very best areas and put them into one district, effectively sacrificing that district (their victory in D2 in 2008 notwithstanding).  However, all the other DPP areas were diluted to the point that the KMT should be able to win all seven of the remaining districts.

So let’s see what the DPP could have done to better its lot.  This should also illustrate how the KMT created its masterpiece.  There are some minor changes that would have been well within the spirit of the process and could have been adopted.  I’ll also put together my “evil genius” plan, a no-holds barred American-style plan full of unlikely combinations that would never have passed here.  It’s shocking to see just how much the DPP left on the table.

Minor Change #1: Shifting population between D3 and D7

Zhongshan District is usually thought of as one of the DPP’s best areas in Taipei City.  It combines with Datong to form a city council district, and the green camp routinely beats the KMT in votes and seats in this district.  One obvious DPP demand was for that city council district to simply form a new legislative electoral district.  After all, it is the right size.  However, doing that leaves an awkwardly sized population in Shilin and Beitou to the north.  It might be possible to make Zhongshan and Datong into one electoral district, but I haven’t figured out how to do that in any reasonable way.

Instead, the KMT plan combined Zhongshan, Songshan, and Xinyi districts to form two electoral districts.  Let’s stick with that, because a minor change that wouldn’t require changing any other districts could have important partisan impact.  Currently, the Songshan is split along Nanjing E. Rd, with the areas north going to D3 (Zhongshan) and the areas south going to D7.  That dividing line is very strategic.

Su Eligible
D3 Zhongshan 47.4 176610
Songhan A 38.1 100068
Total 44.0 276678
D7 Xinyi 39.9 179925
Songshan B 44.6 60481
total 41.1 240406

There are two things here.  Zhongshan is close, and Xinyi is not.  So the KMT put as much of Songshan as possible into D3 in order to dilute the DPP strength there.  Note that Zhongshan and Xinyi have roughly equal populations, but roughly 5/8 of Songshan went into D3.  More importantly, they chose the best KMT areas from Songshan to put into D3.  This meant strengthening the DPP a bit it D7, but that hardly matters.

Geographically, Songshan is like a box within a box.  Right in the middle of the district, there is a box (roughly the Minsheng Community area) with very strong KMT areas.  In the outer box, the partisan balance is more like Zhongshan, with only a slight lean to the KMT.  A strategic DPP planner could have drawn a vertical line roughly along Guangfu N. Rd. (to the south, Guangfu is the border between Da-an and Xinyi) that would have put most of that inner box into D7.  This would also have reversed the population ratios, with D3 now being about as small as the original D7.  This shift would increase Su’s vote share from 44.0% to 46.2% in the new D3.  This wouldn’t have created a “good” DPP district, but D3 would have become a significantly more possible district for the DPP.  A 4.4% swing is nothing to sneeze at.

Su Eligible
D3 Zhongshan 47.4 176610
Songhan A 43.2 65306
Total 46.2 241916
D7 Xinyi 39.9 179925
Songshan B 38.6 95243
total 39.5 275168

Note: If you want to see this on a map, go to Huang Chi’s wonderful site:

He has all the electoral data put on maps down to the li level.  I would should you myself, but I can’t figure out how to cut and paste stuff from there into this blog.

Minor Change #2: Shifting population between D1 and D2

The second change is very similar.  Currently, Beitou, Shilin, and Datong combine to form two electoral districts.  Overall, the two districts lean slightly to the DPP, but instead of two good DPP districts, there is a pro-KMT district.

There is a clear partisan gap between the areas from Shilin in D1 and D2, and this is clearly intended to make the KMT stronger in D1 and the DPP stronger in D2.  Now, this current division is certainly defensible.  The Tianmu area fits very well next to Beitou.  It conveniently also happens to be one of the KMT’s best neighborhoods in Shilin.  (The best would be just south of this one, between it and Zhongshan.  We will revisit this neighborhood in the super evil plan.)

Su Eligible
D1 Beitou 48.7 194177
Shilin A 44.6 67758
Total 47.6 261935
D2 Datong 57.6 98808
Shilin B 53.6 157180
total 55.1 255988

What if instead of the Tianmu area, we switched the Shezi Peninsula to D1.  Shezi is the DPP’s strongest area in the entire city, and this could tip the partisan balance.  Now, one can certainly argue that Shezi has more important transportation links to Datong than to Beitou, but let’s ignore that.  Here’s what we could get:

Su eligible
D1 Beitou 48.7 194177
Shilin A 62.5 51094
Total 51.6 245271
D2 Datong 57.6 98808
Shilin B 47.3 173844
total 51.1 272652

Sure the population is a little unbalanced, but it is easily within acceptable tolerances.  And presto!  There are now two tossup districts!  (Let’s note that there are almost certainly a few DPP politicians currently based in D2 who wouldn’t have been happy to make this trade.)

Minor Change #3: Shifting population between D5, D8, and D6

This is a change that was not made.  However, it was proposed late in the redistricting process, and it lost out in the lottery.  It was proposed by KMT legislator Lin Yu-fang, and it would have helped the KMT and him personally.  (So it doesn’t really belong in this essay, but I think it’s interesting.)

In the final plan, Wanhua, Zhongzheng, and Wenshan combine to form two districts (D5 and D8), while Da-an is its own district (D6).  All three are undersized.  Let’s look at it from Lin’s perspective in D5.  Wanhua is one of the DPP’s traditional strong areas.  It is gradually changing to a more neutral balance, but it remains a place where the DPP could put up good results.  Fortunately for the KMT, Wanhua is not big enough to form its own district, and the areas to the east and south are very strong KMT areas.  They added most of Zhongzheng to Wanhua to form a district that the KMT should almost always win.  However, this district is still undersized, and Lin would have preferred to add all of Zhongzheng.  This would not have violated any population requirements for D5, but it would have caused a problem for D8.  Lin’s proposal was to take the necessary areas from D6, which would have left both D6 and D8 right at the lower threshold for population requirements.  It wouldn’t have had much partisan impact on D6 or D8 since both are overwhelmingly pro-KMT, so we’ll ignore that (and save me the time of calculating those numbers).  However, this change would have solidified the KMT in D5.  Here is the actual plan:

Su eligible
D5 Wanhua 49.7 153932
Zhongzheng A 40.7 85493
Total 46.6 239425
D6 Da-an 37.5 241754
D8 Wenshan 34.3 200983
Zhongzheng B 39.2 35404
total 35.0 236387

Lin’s plan would have created a better D5 for the KMT.  Note that the part of Zhongzheng currently in D8 is actually the strongest KMT part of Zhongzheng.  Lin really would have liked that to be in his district!  Here’s what the new D5 would have looked like.

Su eligible
D5 Wanhua 49.7 153932
Zhongzheng 40.2 120897
Total 45.6 274829

D6 and D8 would have had an average of 221369 eligible voters, which would have been 13.4% below the mean.

This is a change that would have helped the KMT.  The equivalent change to help the DPP would have been to shift 20,000 more voters from D5 into D8, drawing the line in Zhongzheng a bit further north.  However, since the district is already undersized, you couldn’t do too much more.  Remember, the voters north of the line are already closer to the overall average than the ones to the south, moving half as many would not have that much impact.

Evil Change #4: Cut Youth Park area out of D5

Now we start to get into some ideas that are pushing the envelope for what might be considered acceptable and what moves into naked partisanship.  As we noted above, the DPP is fairly strong in Wanhua.  However, this is not true in the neighborhood around Youth Park, which has a lot of public (read: military (read: mainlander)) housing.  Conveniently, this borders the area of Zhongzheng that is already in D8.  What if we cut out those areas and replaced them with some votes from Da-an?  We’ll take the blocks between Xinsheng S. Rd. and Fuxing S. Rd. and between railroad and Xinyi Rd; this basically extends the district east two blocks.  We won’t worry about how to replace those areas in D6.

Here’s the current D5:

Su eligible
D5 Wanhua 49.7 153932
Zhongzheng A 40.7 85493
Total 46.6 239425

Here is what the new district would look like:

Su eligible
D5 Wanhua 54.4 124471
Zhongzheng A 40.7 85493
Da-an A 39.1 29095
Total 47.8 239059
To D8 Wanhua 30.3 29461

These are all minor shifts, but when you are so close to the 50% mark, these minor shifts matter a lot.

Super Evil plan!

Ok, this is the no-holds barred, I have no sense of shame, naked partisan advantage plan.  This is what I would come up with if I were an American planner (where all those adjectives are routine and expected) trying to maximize DPP chances at success.  Here are my eight districts:

Su eligible
D1 Beitou: all 

Shilin: Shezi Peninsula

51.6 245271
D2 Shilin: most of Shilin 

Datong: north of Minquan W. Rd.

Zhongshan: north of Minquan E. Rd. but not including Dazhi area

51.7 242116
D3 Wanhua: not including Youth Park area 

Datong: south of Minquan W. Rd

Zhongshan: south of Minquan W. Rd, but not including area south of Minsheng E Rd. and east of Songjiang Rd.

53.7 240729
D4 Shilin: a few areas near National Palace Museum and up toward Tianmu (but not Tianmu itself) 

Zhongshan: Dazhi

Neihu: most of Neihu

Songshan: Minsheng Community east to river

38.2 270510
D5 Neihu: Donghu and area along Jilong River 

Nangang: all

Xinyi: areas along Nangang and Sonshan borders

Songshan: areas near Ciyou Temple

45.3 238368
D6 Songshan: north and west sides 

Zhongshan: area south of Minsheng E Rd. and east of Songjiang Rd.

Zhongzheng: old Chengzhong District

Da-an: north of Xinyi Rd.

41.2 269213
D7 Da-an: south of Xinyi Rd. 

Xinyi: most of district

36.6 273870
D8 Wanhua: area around Youth Park 

Zhongzheng: most of old Guting District (same as current plan)

Wenshan: all

34.5 265848


D1 is the district I proposed above.  So far nothing too radical.  D2 and D3 are beyond the pale.  Basically, we have to put together Datong, Zhongshan, Wanhua, and the rest of Shilin to form two districts.  There simply isn’t any “reasonable” line that I can find that does this.  And there are geographical problems.  To the south, Wanhua only touches Datong.  We really don’t want to wander into Zhongzheng to get to Zhongshan, because the DPP’s vote is 10-15% lower on the other side of the street.  Shilin really also has to connect through Datong.  Shilin and Zhongshan are connected, but I cut out those places from both districts and put them into D4.  So my solution is to draw a horizontal line right through the middle of Datong and Zhongshan, putting part of each administrative district in D2 to the north, and half in D3 to the south.  So both D2 and D3 contain areas from three administrative districts but no complete administrative districts.  Moreover, I cut out the DPP’s bad areas in each of these districts.  (As an American, I can draw these districts without so much as blushing!)

D4 gets all the non-competitive areas in the northern part of the city.   This district includes most of Neihu, except for the very southern and eastern sections, and then it stretches west through Dazhi (the part of Zhongshan north of the river) and through the tunnel into Shilin, near the National Palace Museum and a bit north.  I also really pushed the envelope by crossing the river on the eastern boundary of Songshan District in order to take in the Minsheng community area (but only that area and not the greener areas in Songshan to the north or south of it).

D5 is my attempt to put together all the remaining areas in Taipei City that the DPP doesn’t get steamrolled in.  This includes all of Nangang.  In Neihu, it includes the of Neihu along the river (on the southern border) and on the eastern border, next to Xizhi.  These areas are generally not very glamorous.  The area along the river is some of the most industrial grit you can find in our fair city.  In Songshan, the area right around the Ciyou Temple and Raohe Night Market is pretty good DPP territory.  This is due south of the part I put into D4.  Finally, the parts of Xinyi district on the northern and eastern borders are ok for the DPP.   Roughly, you can think of this as areas near the Houshanpi MRT station.

D6, D7, and D8 are hopeless for the DPP.  I tried to put the best of the remaining areas into D6, but there isn’t much left.  You have the northern and western parts of Songshan, the southeast corner of Zhongshan, most of Zhongzheng (the part of Zhongzheng  that is in the actual D5), and the northern part of Da-an (just extend Zhongzheng eastward).  D7  is the rest of Da-an and all the parts of Xinyi that we didn’t want in D5.  D8 is the same as the actual D8, except we added the areas from Wanhua right around Youth Park.

The population distribution is fine.  The biggest district is 7% above the mean, and the smallest is 7% below it.  I could have gone further here.  Regardless, you will notice that the D1, D2, D3, and D5 are smaller than D4, D6, D7, and D8.

What kind of monster have I created!?!?

So here you would have one district with the DPP as a clear favorite (D3), two tossups or perhaps DPP slight advantages (D1, D2), and a fourth district that the DPP has an outside chance in if absolutely everything goes right (D5).  The other fourth districts are impossible for the green camp.

Of course, to get this you have to violate every sense of following the spirit of the redistricting guidelines.  Oh, I could have been even more egregious, I suppose.  I could have taken the one li in Nangang that borders Wenshan district and changed it from D5 to D8 even though there is only one little mountain road (that goes through a graveyard and a garbage incinerator) connecting them.  But I didn’t leave too many opportunities like that left untouched.

How do I feel about this?  In some ways, I’m stunned that the DPP allowed themselves to get rolled like this.  Even little changes, like my proposed changes #1, #2, and #4 would have created a significantly better electoral environment for them.  #4 might be crossing the line of what is acceptable, but #1 and #2 certainly are not.  It would not have been difficult to propose an alternate plan to the Speaker (Su Tseng-chang).  At the very least, they would have had a 50-50 chance in a lottery of getting a better set of districts.

Now, we could just assume that the DPP was stupid and naïve and got beaten on by the much more sophisticated KMT.  I don’t like to make these kinds of assumptions.  To me, any time you find yourself explaining something with the rationale that “people are stupid,” you probably need to rethink.  That is usually an excuse for lazy thinking on your part.  So I’m trying to find reasons that the DPP would have been against changes like the ones I outlined.  With #4, there might have been sufficient commitment to ideas of playing fair, that spanning three districts and obviously cutting out a bad area just might not have been acceptable.  Besides, any politicians wishing to run in D6 probably would not have been happy with such a switch.  With #2, there were certainly DPP politicians (ie: most in Datong and Shilin) who would have been unhappy with the switch.  #1 is the one that I think is the hardest to explain.  The only thing I can speculate about is that someone in Songshan wants to run, and they would like to be in the Zhongshan District.  However, I don’t know who this would be.

My other reaction is that I’m relieved that they didn’t allow someone like me to draw the districts.  It’s better for democracy if you don’t look at a district and immediately assume that it was drawn in this funny way for some political purpose.  However, this is always a possibility in a system like Taiwan has now, with single-member districts.  As long as you have to draw districts, the possibility of partisan manipulation is going to be present.  To me, this is a very strong argument for electoral system change.  I have other arguments as well.  I generally think that this electoral system is a disaster on many fronts.  However, even if this were the only problem, it would be sufficient to consider a different system.

2012 legislative candidates, v.1

March 20, 2011

Enough of that silly policy talk.  Let’s get back to elections!

The KMT finished its first stage of the process, accepting applications for nonimations, on Friday.   The DPP finished this last week, but only for the districts they think they will win.  The “difficult” districts will have to wait for another day for the DPP’s field of candidates.  So here is the field right now.  Maybe when I have more energy, I’ll put in names and discuss individual people.  (Romanization strikes again: I could zip out the Pinyin for all these people in a few minutes, but looking up each one individually is going to take some time.  So my effort to use more common spellings has a price, dammit.  Curse you, romanization!)

city D# name KMT DPP
Taipei 1 Beitou 丁守中
2 Datong 周守訓






no name






3 Zhongshan 蔣孝嚴



4 Neihu 李彥秀
5 Wanhua 林郁方
6 Da-an 蔣乃辛
7 Xinyi 費鴻泰
8 Wenshan 賴士葆
New Taipei 1 Danshui 吳育昇
2 Luzhou 黃劍輝


3 Sanchong 高志鵬


.3998 (.3373)

.3553 (.3486)

4 Xinzhuang 許炳崑


5 Shulin 黃志雄 歐金獅



6 Banqiao N. 林鴻池 周雅淑


7 Banqiao S. 江惠貞



8 Zhonghe 張慶忠
9 Yonghe 林德福
10 Tucheng 盧嘉辰
11 Xindian 羅明才
12 Xizhi 李慶華
Jilong 1 all 謝國樑
Ilan 1 All 林建榮 陳歐珀




no name






Taoyuan 1 North 陳根德
2 Coast 蘇俊賓 郭榮宗
3 Zhongli 陳學聖


4 Taoyuan 楊麗環



5 Pingzhen 陳萬得





6 Daxi 孫大千
Hsinchu City 1 All 呂學樟
Hsinchu County 1 all 楊敬賜





Miaoli 1 Coast 陳超明
2 inland 徐耀昌
Taichung 1 Qingshui 陳添旺


2 Da-Wu-Long 紀國棟
3 Tanzi-Daya 楊瓊瓔
4 Xitun-Nantun 蔡錦隆
5 North-Beitun 盧秀燕
6 Central 黃義交








7 Dali-Taiping 周文雄






8 Fengyuan 冉齡軒


Changhua 1 Lugang 陳秀卿




2 Changhua 林滄敏
3 Erlin 鄭汝芬


4 Yuanlin 蕭景田
Nantou 1 North 馬文君


2 South 莊瑞麟




Yunlin 1 Coast 張嘉君
2 Inland 吳育仁 劉建國




Chiayi City 1 All 江義雄
Chiayi County 1 Coast
2 Inland 孫義村








Tainan 1 Xinying 葉宜津
2 Madou 周賜海 黃偉哲
3 Central-north 謝龍介 陳亭妃
4 South-east 查名邦 林俊憲


5 Yongkang 李俊毅


no name




Kaohsiung 1 Meinong 鍾紹和 余政道




2 Gangshan 林益世 康裕成






3 Zuoying 張顯耀


4 Daliao 徐慶煌 林岱華
5 Gushan 林壽山 管碧玲
6 Sanmin 侯彩鳳 陳其邁




7 Lingya 邱義



8 Fengshan 江玲君 許智傑
9 Xiaogang 林永堅


Pingdong 1 North 羅志明 蘇震清
2 Pingdong 王進士 蘇義峰




3 south 潘孟安
Taidong 1 all 李建智





Hualien 1 all 王廷升


Penghu 1 all (林炳坤)
Jinmen 1 all 楊應雄




Lianjiang 1 all 曹爾忠
Plains Aborigines 廖國棟






Mountain Aborigines 林信義


Fukushima and us

March 18, 2011

We’re all watching the nuclear crisis unfold in Japan with horror, and most of us are asking some version of the question, “what does this mean for us?”


Before I go any further, let me take the unusual step of telling you my position on nuclear power: I’m ambivalent.  I’m not necessarily for it, and I’m not necessarily against it.  I could be convinced if only someone would answer a lot of questions.  Like most people, this question was very far from my mind 10 days ago, but now we are all paying attention.  These will be a critical few months in shaping opinions on nuclear power for the next generation.  Mine might be among those shaped.


Let me also say that this is going to be an explorative post.  I’m exploring my own ideas.  So things might not be too coherent.


One obvious area of focus is on the 4th nuclear power plant, which is fairly close to completion.  Lots of people are starting to scream that Taiwan should abandon the project.  My feeling is that it is probably too late for this.  So much money, time, energy, political capital has been expended that the plant will almost certainly be completed and start operations.  I think what will happen will be something like what happened 15 years ago with the Mucha Line of the Taipei MRT.  If you recall, the Mucha Line experienced horrendous cost overruns and was the centerpiece of both opposition campaigns in the 1994 Taipei mayoral race.  Without the Mucha Line, there may never have been a President Chen.  Anyway, at some point, cracks in the supporting columns were noticed, and people began screaming that the thing was not only expensive, but also dangerous.  There were calls to tear down the whole thing and just turn it into parking spaces.  Candidate Chen promised a full investigation and swore he would not allow a dangerous system to open.  Mayor Chen did commission an investigation, and the commission concluded that what was needed were metal jackets on each of the support columns.  So they spent a few months welding steel around the concrete columns.  Then they claimed that the columns were now so safe that the life of the line was extended by 25 (?) years, and Chen opened the line.  Now, I’m not an engineer, and I have no idea if the metal jackets were, in fact, so critical or if they just served to hide the cracks from public view.  I don’t even know if the cracks were all that dangerous to begin with.  What I am sure about is that the metal jackets were a brilliant political solution.  They were a highly visible fix to a visible problem, and steel looks strong.  Chen had clearly identified a problem and addressed it.  It wasn’t cheap and it took a few months, so you couldn’t call it a convenient solution.  It was brilliant in easing public fears.  The line opened, and I haven’t heard anything about those support columns in years.  Back to the nuclear power plant.  I think the same thing will happen.  There will be a study, and the government will implement some highly visible and preferably costly fix.  It is important that it be costly.  That sends a credible signal that the government did something substantial to make the plant safer.  (After all, if it were cheap, they would have already done it.)


Anyway, I think the 4th nuclear power plant is probably the wrong battle.  It’s going to open.  The anti-nuclear crowd should probably try to attain a more reachable goal, such as shutting the older plants down ahead of schedule.


My energy dream is for a de-emphasis on both traditional thermal and nuclear power and a major government push to develop solar.  Again, I don’t understand the technology at all, but it seems to me that solar energy could be Taiwan’s next great economic engine.  I’m envisioning a new version of the Hsinchu Science Park and the semiconductor industry.  Every country in the world is going to be re-evaluating its energy policy in the aftermath of Fukushima, and there will be a much larger market for alternative energy.  A few Taiwanese companies are doing wind turbines, but lots are involved in solar.  It just seems such a natural fit, given Taiwan’s ample sunlight and high-powered (pun intended) electronics industry.  Hell, the whole island turns on air conditioners exactly at the time that the sun shines the brightest.  Why aren’t there powerful government incentives to put solar panels on every rooftop?  (Note: According to the Taipower website, almost none of Taiwan’s electricity is currently generated by solar power.)


Oops.  I have slipped into advocacy, something that I’m not supposed to do on this blog.  Sorry.  We’ll blame it on the fact that I’m overly emotional from the Fukushima crisis.




Tsai announces

March 13, 2011

Tsai Ing-wen has announced that she will run for president, and everyone expects Su Tseng-chang to follow suit in the near future.  This ends a couple of weeks during which many DPP leaders seemed to be trying to come to some consensus about who should be the nominee without going through a messy primary process.  I am not surprised that Tsai effectively ended that pressure with her announcement.  As the more junior of the two viable candidates, any negotiated solution would almost certainly have ended with her yielding to Su.

More to the point, I am a little uncertain why so many people in the DPP seem to think that avoiding a primary is desirable.  The DPP has always been an election driven party.  That is, the most powerful people in the party are powerful because they were able to grab power through electoral victories.  The natural way for them to decide who the nominee will be is through a test of strength.  This idea that conflict should be avoided at all costs reminds me of the authoritarian era KMT who were constantly trying to consolidate power around the leadership 鞏固領導中心, because any struggle among leaders might tempt one of them to reach out for popular support – and that might lead to something terrible, such as democracy.  The DPP should not get caught up in these sorts of debates.  Democratic parties fight all the time about who will lead them and which direction they will go in.  This is a healthy process.

Moreover, the DPP has an important discussion that it needs to hold.  In her campaign last year and in her announcement, Tsai spoke extensively about her vision of building a social welfare state.  If she becomes the nominee and especially if she wins the election, she will take the DPP in a very different direction.  They need to decide right now if they are willing to go in that direction.  If they don’t want to shift in the direction of social welfare, then they should stay with Su, who will probably maintain traditional DPP economic policies.  If most of the party wants to radically shift in the direction that Tsai wants to go in, they need to forge an internal consensus within the party.  Otherwise, the DPP risks a crisis later down the road when they find that their leader is going in strange and unexpected directions.  As a commentator, I’m not taking a position on whether building a comprehensive social welfare state is a good idea or not.  I’m just saying that if the DPP wants to go in that direction, they need to forge a political consensus first.  Politics must come first if the public policy is to have any chance of success.

So I think it is a very good thing for the DPP that it will have an intensely fought primary.  Taking the politics out of politics is usually a bad idea.


In a previous post, I wrote that the DPP revamped its nomination rules for the legislative nominations to give the party leader(s) the power to decide nominations for the party list and for “difficult” districts, and that this represented a power-grab by Tsai Ing-wen.  I should have written that it “looked to me” like a power grab by Tsai.  Any time a party votes to give a lot more power to its leader, I am inclined to assume that the leader (1) wanted more power, and (2) was working to get more power.  I tend to put less weight on what everyone is actually saying since people don’t always speak sincerely in such situations.  Moreover, there are lots of ways to make such decisions (ie: contested primaries of some sort) without having to resort to decisions by the central leadership.  So it looked to me like a power grab.  (Note: Power grabs are not always bad.  One of the biggest problems of Ma’s first year as president was that he refused to seize power within the KMT so that Lien Chan 連戰, Wu Po-hsiung 吳伯雄, and others could go around acting as if they were in charge.)

I’m re-evaluating that judgment in light of Tsai’s announcement that she is stepping aside as chair to contest the presidential nomination.  I did not assume that she would step aside since she didn’t bother to do so last year when she was running for New Taipei City Mayor.  However, she presumably knew that she would step aside a month ago, and so she may have realized that the nomination power would accrue to someone else.  If that is the case, then the decision perhaps was not aimed at strengthening herself within the party as a means of winning the presidential nomination.  Or perhaps it was.  She may have felt confident enough that she would leave her allies in charge of the party that this decision would work in her favor even if she weren’t personally chairing the meetings.  At any rate, I think it is a lot more fruitful to think about all these decisions in terms of whose power was increased or decreased than in terms of statements to the press.


Three years ago, DPP candidates got obliterated in most districts.  Perhaps one lesson that DPP politicians learned is that it doesn’t do much good to win a nomination in a lousy district.  Of course, they already knew this, but it seems to really have sunk in this time.  We see all the DPP candidates desperately trying to seize a nomination in a good district, and no one seems remotely interested in the swing districts, much less the difficult ones.   Nowhere is this more evident than in Taipei City.  Taipei City has one district that the DPP should win (Datong-Shilin), one district that it has a weak but real chance of winning (Beitou-Tianmu), three districts that it has an outside chance of winning if everything goes right (Zhongshan-Songshan, Nangang-Neihu, Wanhua-Zhongzheng), and three districts that it has absolutely no chance in hell of winning (Da-an, Wenshan-Zhongzheng, Xinyi-Songshan).  Right now everyone is piling into the one good district.  Currently there are four strong candidates (Tuan Yi-kang 段宜康, Yao Wen-chih 姚文智, Kuo Cheng-liang 郭正亮, and Luo Wen-chia 羅文嘉) and another (Chuang Rui-hsiung 莊瑞雄) has announced but withdrawn.  I haven’t heard of anyone expressing interest in any of the other seven districts.  It doesn’t take much imagination to see how this is going to unfold.  One of these four will win the nomination, and the other three will start looking for a new district.  Perhaps they will suddenly discover a burning passion to serve the voters of Beitou or Zhongshan.

Of course, this has all been facilitated by the DPP’s decision to designate 40 districts as “difficult.”  By leaving these 40 districts empty and available for losers, the DPP is basically inviting all strong candidates to take a shot at winning one of the “good” nominations.  There are always lots of consolation prizes.  Moreover, many of these so-called difficult districts are ones that the DPP should plan on trying to win.  Given the swing in popular opinion that we have consistently witnessed over the last year and a half, several of these should be considered tossup districts and many others are in the realm of possibility.

So the dilemma that the DPP faced was this.  On the one hand, it has the current system in which many politicians will end up as nominees in a district they did not really want to be in.  There is the risk that the KMT opponent will hammer them with this.  “My opponent really wants to be in Xinzhuang City.  I have always wanted to represent the people of Danshui and no one else.  He’s only here in Danshui because they didn’t want him in Xinzhuang.  Well, we don’t want their rejects!”  It might be far better if the DPP required everyone to choose a district from the beginning so that some of the stronger politicians might strategically decide that they have no chance of winning the nomination in the good district and just go straight to the weaker district.  This is what the DPP has always done in the past.  For example in 2001, they required members to choose whether they wanted to contest the county magistrate, district legislator, or list legislator nominees.  They didn’t hold county magistrate nominations first and then let the losers run for legislator.  On the other hand, the DPP might calculate that, regardless of their nomination system, the strongest politicians are overwhelmingly going to try for one of the good districts.  If they were to force everyone to choose at the very beginning, the result would be that a lot of strong candidates were effectively ruled ineligible and you would have a field of really weak candidates running in tossup districts.

Interestingly, they did not decide to have a second round of primaries in the difficult districts.  That is, they could have settled the nominations for the 33 strong districts in April and then started the whole process over for the other 40 districts with primaries being held in June or July.  If no one wanted to contest them, they would still have the option of drafting someone.  Instead, they decided to have all those nominations decided by the central party headquarters.  I don’t know why they went this route.  Maybe they worried that candidates who had already lost one primary would be financially or organizationally too exhausted to contest a second primary.  Maybe those candidates simply wouldn’t have any credibility in a new district so soon after losing in a different district.  Or maybe the people in control of the party headquarters wanted a bit more power in their hands.