Posts Tagged ‘party list’

What does Soong want?

December 1, 2011

Why is James Soong insisting on running for president?  Why is he risking throwing the presidential election to the DPP?  Everyone has an answer, and so do I.  However, I think my answer is a little more boring than most others.  I think Soong sees an opportunity to become a critical power center again.  The key is to stop thinking about the presidential race and start thinking about the legislative race, something no one seems to want to do.  There is a reasonable chance that the PFP could win enough seats to deny either of the two big parties a majority in the legislature.  If that happens, regardless of whether Ma or Tsai is the president, they will have to go to Soong for help if they want to pass any legislation.


Here’s the quick version of the argument.  There are 113 seats in the legislature.  Most people think the DPP can win about 50.   The PFP could easily win seven seats.  That would leave the KMT with 56 seats.  Let the wooing begin!

Where would the PFP get 7 seats?  Well, there are two aboriginal candidates, one of whom (Lin Cheng-er 林正二) is a very good bet to win and the other of whom (Wallis Belin 瓦歷斯貝林) has about a 50-50 shot.  Chen Fu-hai 陳福海 is the incumbent in Jinmen, so you have to take him seriously.  In Hualien, Chang Chih-chao 張智超 is running as an independent, but he is a puppet for county executive and PFP loyalist Fu Kun-chi.  With 8% of the party list vote, the PFP should get three seats.  That’s seven.

Note that only one of those seven came from seats that the DPP has a chance to win.  The single seat that the PFP might be taking from the DPP is in the party list sector.  However, even that isn’t quite clear, since most of the PFP party list votes probably come out of the blue camp’s pool of supporters.  Moreover, the PFP doesn’t necessarily have to win all seven seats.  The DPP could easily win 52 or 53 seats.  (I’m on record as saying that it isn’t out of the question that the DPP could even win an outright majority.  However, that would remove all of the PFP’s bargaining power.)

It’s amazing.  This outcome is a very realistic possibility, and I have yet to see any mention of it in the media.  As far as I know, no one has uttered the magic phrase 三黨不過半 yet.  They should start thinking about it.

So that’s what Soong is thinking about, and that’s why he is campaigning hard.


Now for the longer version.

Soong is never going to be president.  He’s not going to win this year, and he is already 69 years old.  I’m sure he understands this.  However, it seems clear that he is not ready to retire and become a doddering party elder with no power, like Lien Chan or Wu Po-hsiung.  With all the enemies he has made in the KMT over the last decade and a half, that might not even be an option.

Soong has three options.  He can merge with the KMT, cooperate with the KMT, or compete with the KMT.

He could completely merge his party with the KMT.  However, the two parties are not equals any longer.  The PFP would be absorbed into the KMT, and none of its members would be moving to the center of power.  At his age, Soong can’t realistically hope to take over the party and lead it.  This also holds for most of the PFP members.  Take Huang Shan-shan 黃珊珊.  She is one of the PFP’s most capable members.  She handles most of the party’s legal challenges, and is a charismatic spokeswoman.  What if she joined the KMT?  The KMT has dozens of Taipei City Council members, not to mention dozens of legislators, cabinet members, and countless other elected officials.  Who has a higher profile, PFP member Huang Shan-shan or KMT member Lin Yi-hua 林奕華?  Nearly every PFP member with enough personal status to survive the move to the KMT has already made the leap.  The people still in the PFP are probably better off as big fish in a small party.

What about cooperation?  Four years ago, the PFP tried the cooperation strategy, and it was a complete disaster.  Let’s go back and look at how the PFP fell apart.  A lot, but not all of it, has to do with the new electoral system.  In 2004, the PFP elected 34 legislators.  When the new electoral system was passed, a lot of these legislators made the strategic decision that the best way to survive was to win the KMT nomination.  12 legislators defected to the KMT in 2005 and 2006.  There wasn’t much the PFP could do about these 12.  They effectively opted for the first strategy, merging, whether Soong liked it or not.  However, that still left 22 legislators who didn’t defect.  In 2008, the PFP decided to cooperate with the KMT.  PFP members joined the KMT, were nominated by the KMT, and ran under the KMT’s banner.  The PFP even got three spots on the KMT’s party list.  In the table, these people are marked as having left the PFP for the “election.”  Nine legislators won seats this way, three on the party list and six in districts.  (Two others lost.)  Where are those nine people today, now that the PFP wants to assert its independent identity?  Eight are still in the KMT.  The lone exception is Hualien County Executive Fu Kun-chi, who is not in the legislature.  The other eight were simply absorbed back into the KMT.  From Soong’s point of view, they are no longer his soldiers.  They don’t answer to him at all.  Collaboration has been a disaster for the PFP.  All it achieved was to transform eleven PFP legislators into KMT members.


Name Name   Leave PFP 2008 election
張顯耀 Chang Hsien-yao D Election KMT list
邱毅 Chiu Yi D 05.5.23 KMT list
李永萍 Lee Yong-ping D 06.1.27 Resigned 07.1.23, DNR
林郁方 Lin Yu-fang D 06.1.25 KMT district
李慶安 Dianne Lee D 06.2.14 KMT district
周錫瑋 Chou Hsi-wei D 05.4.13 Resigned 05.12.20, Taipei County
吳清池 Wu Ching-chih D Election KMT district
柯淑敏 Ko Shu-ming D Election KMT district (lost)
李鴻鈞 Lee Hung-chun D Election KMT district
李慶華 Lee Ching-hua D 05.6.3 KMT district
林德福 Lin Te-fu D 06.1.27 KMT district
鄭金玲 Cheng Chin-ling D Election KMT list
孫大千 Sun Ta-chien D 06.1.27 KMT district
徐耀昌 Hsu Yao-chang D Election KMT district
馮定國 Feng Ting-kuo D DNR
陳朝容 Chen Chao-rung D 06.6.17 IND district (lost)
陳志彬 Chen Chih-pin D 06.1.27 DNR
鍾紹和 Chung Shao-ho D Election KMT district
趙良燕 Chao Liang-yen D DNR
傅崐萁 Fu Kun-chi D Election KMT district (now back in PFP)
謝國樑 Hsieh Kuo-liang D 06.4.17 KMT district
呂學樟 Lu Hsueh-chang D Election KMT district
沈智慧 Chen Chih-hwei D IND district (lost)
黃義交 Hwang Yi-jiau D Election KMT district
高思博 Kao Su-po D 06.2.3 KMT district (lost)
林正二 Lin Cheng-er A PFP aborigines
林春德 Lin Chung-te A PFP aborigines (lost)
李復甸 Li Ful-dien L   Entered LY 07.1.18, DNR
林惠官 Lin Hui-kuan L DNR
蔡勝佳 Tsai Sheng-jia L DNR
劉文雄 Liu Wen-hsiung L DNR
鍾榮吉 Chung Jung-chi L DNR
羅淑蕾 Lo Shu-lei L Election Entered LY 07.11.26, KMT list
劉憶如 Christina Liu L Resigned 07.11.20, DNR
顧崇廉 Ku Chung-lien L Died 07.1.15, DNR
梅長錡 Marr Chang-chi L DNR


This time, Soong and the PFP are trying the third strategy, competition.  They have to figure out how to build a new party with elected members who can survive in this new system and will not feel a need to defect to the KMT.  The PFP’s strategy is built around three types of legislators.  First, they need to win some seats on the party list.  Look at the table above.   In 2004, the PFP elected 25 people from the districts.  12 of these defected.  They won 7 seats on the party list, and two other people got list seats when they were vacated.  Not a single one of these nine people quit the party.  (Lo Shu-lei joined the KMT and won a spot on the KMT’s list, but that was part of the collaboration strategy and was encouraged by the PFP leaders.)  In fact, party list members can’t be disloyal.  If they piss off party leaders, the leaders can kick them out of the party.  If they lose their party membership, they lose their seats.  So if the PFP can win three list seats, it is assured of three loyal soldiers.

Second, the PFP is targeting aboriginal seats.  The main reason it is doing this is that Soong still has a high level of popularity with many aboriginal voters.  However, it is also critical that the aboriginal seats are still elected under the old system.  They have two three seat districts instead of six single seat districts.  A PFP legislator can survive in a three seat district.

Third and most difficult, the PFP hopes to win a couple of seats in overwhelmingly blue districts.  Jinmen is the most obvious case, but Hualien also fits.  In these areas, the PFP should be able to compete with the KMT without necessarily throwing the seat to the DPP.  Moreover, the PFP is targeting areas where the PFP in its heyday was even more popular than the KMT.  The hope is that the PFP can win a toehold in these deep blue seats.  The challenges in Da-an, Wenshan, Zhongli, and Neihu roughly fit this pattern.  However, legislators elected in these districts will always be tempted to defect to the KMT, so these are the most tenuous seats.

There are two types of glue that can hold together a party, ideals and pork.  If the PFP can manage to become a critical minority, it will be able to extract a lot of pork.  Ideals are a different matter.  Much of the PFP’s appeal is based on Soong’s charisma, specifically the idea that Soong is the most compassionate and competent politician on the entire island.  That’s great for Soong, but it won’t hold his party together.  I think this is one reason that Soong has recently taken a much more aggressive stance on unification with China.


This still leaves us with the question of why Soong needs to run for president.  I believe the answer is obvious: running for president will help the PFP win party list seats.  If might help in the district races as well, though probably more in the races the PFP has little chances of winning.  The candidates in the four races I think the PFP can win aren’t relying on Soong.

Soong’s campaign for president helps in two ways.  First, it keeps the PFP on the stage.  The media is focused entirely on the presidential campaigns.  How much attention are the TSU and NP getting right now?  They won’t be participating in the presidential debates, their presidential candidates won’t be on TV, and reporters won’t be asking them what the party stands for.  They are ignorable.

Second, Soong’s hopeless presidential bid encourages sympathy votes for the party list.  Polls have shown Soong at anywhere from 7-14%.  I think most of that will evaporate.  The presidential race is very close, and most people just won’t be able to waste their vote on Soong.  I’ll be very surprised if he gets 3%.  However, that still leaves 4-11% of the electorate who like Soong and will feel somewhat guilty about not voting for him.  Psychologically, I think a lot will assuage this guilt by telling him (or his picture on the ballot), “I’m sorry I can’t vote for you, but I’ll at least vote for your party.”  I don’t think 8% is unrealistic at all.


So that’s why I think Soong is running for president.  We’ve all been so focused on the presidential race, that we have completely missed the PFP’s real purpose.  The legislative race is the driving force.  If Soong just happens to win enough votes to throw the presidency to Tsai Ing-wen, that will simply be an unfortunate side effect.







dividing the 34 party list seats

November 24, 2011

There are 34 party list seats available.  How many should each side expect to get?  It turns out that this is not a very simple question.  My best guess is that the blue side will get about 52% of the party list votes, while the green side will get 48%.  That would work out to an 18-16 split.  However, without changing that 52-48 vote, it is quite easy to imagine the result varying from 19-15 all the way to 16-18.

Each seat should cost about 3% (100%/34=2.94%).  However, there is a 5% threshold.  If your party gets even one vote less than 5%, you get zero seats.  If you cross the threshold, you get at least two seats.

The key factor is that right now all three small parties are somewhere near the 5% threshold.  A tiny difference in votes could make an enormous difference in seats.  Imagine two nearly identical votes:

Scenario 1 Actual vote After 5% threshold seats
KMT 42.02 46.68 16
PFP 4.99    
NP 4.99    
DPP 43.00 47.77 16
TSU 5.00 5.55 2
Scenario 2      
KMT 42.00 44.21 15
PFP 5.00 5.26 2
NP 5.00 5.26 2
DPP 43.01 45.27 15
TSU 4.99    

That’s a three seat swing between the two camps with almost no difference in the popular vote.  Three seats might not sound like a lot, but there are only 113 total seats.  Heck, in 1995 when there were a whopping 165 seats, the KMT won a three seat majority and nearly lost control of the legislature.  Three seats matters a lot.

Of course, this is an extreme example, but any time a party goes over the threshold, it is essentially taking one seat from the other side.  (That is, it gets two seats.  Compared to the distribution if it didn’t pass the threshold, one of those seats comes from the big party in its own camp and the other comes from the big party on the other side.)

Right now, I seem to be in the minority in thinking that continued blue camp control of the legislature is not a sure thing.  However, if I am right, the big parties might want to consider quietly encouraging a few supporters to vote for their allies to make sure they pass the threshold.

(I remember a story about this happening in Germany a few years ago.  The Christian Democrats wanted to make sure that the Free Democrats passed the threshold so that they could form a coalition government.  Of course, under Germany’s fully proportional MMP system, the stakes were higher.  Whereas the TSU would gain only 1.8% (2 of 113) of the seats, the Free Democrats would have gained a full 5%.)

The downside of this strategic threshold voting would be that it would help the small parties survive. One of the main attractions of the new MMM system to the KMT and DPP was that they could starve out the small parties and monopolize their side of the political spectrum.

By the way, my guess right now is that the PFP will easily pass the threshold, but the TSU and New Party will fall short.  I’m going with KMT 15, PFP 3, and DPP 16.


KMT party list

November 16, 2011

The KMT released its party list today and the most notable thing is not so much the list itself but how it was released.  The KMT did a brilliant job of manipulating the media to receive the maximum positive coverage from this list.

Recall that there was quite a bit of negative publicity over the DPP’s list.  People both inside and outside the party were unhappy, complaining that the DPP’s list was dominated by its factions and did not include any new faces or representatives of underprivileged groups.  The KMT based its strategy entirely on this lingering dissatisfaction.  Yesterday, the KMT first leaked news that its 2nd, 3rd, and 4th ranked candidates would represent underprivileged groups.  Because of this, today’s news cycle was entirely dominated by the spin that the KMT, unlike the DPP, cares about the underprivileged.  By the time the rest of the list came out, the story was already firmly established.  It really doesn’t matter who else is on the list; the narrative is set.  However, the KMT reinforced the narrative by emphasizing the number of new faces on the list.  Their list, they stress, is not a safety valve for current legislators who lost the primary or fear they can’t be re-elected (unlike the DPP’s list).

Of course, this is mostly good packaging.  The KMT has two activists Wang Yu-min and Yang Yu-hsin, at #2 and #4.  #3 (Tseng Chu-wei) is a scholar, which is not quite the same thing.  If you just want to compare activists, the DPP has Chen Chieh-ru 陳節如 and Wu Yi-chen 吳宜臻 at #1 and #3.  The KMT does have people with scholarly backgrounds at #3, #7, #12, and #18.  While the general public apparently prefers (honest and new!) scholars to (dirty and familiar!) politicians, I’m not so sure.  I don’t think its necessarily a good thing for someone who has never asked a voter for support to be making laws.  If you want expertise in the legislature, invite them.  They’ll come and testify.  Better yet, beef up the legislative staff, parliamentary library, and other support systems.

Getting back to the KMT’s list, there are a few names I’m familiar with.  That’s right, there are a few old-fashioned politicians on the list.  Shocking!  One interesting thing is that the KMT seems determined to keep some representation in the south.  Speaker Wang (#1) is from Kaohsiung.  Su Ching-chuan (#11) is from Pingtung.  He is listed as a doctor, but he’s a politician.  He ran for legislator in 2008 and lost to Pan Meng-an 潘孟安.  Chen Shu-hui (#18) is from Tainan.  She was the KMT’s candidate in the by-election against Hsu Tain-tsair 許添財. Her husband is former legislator Lin Nan-sheng 林南生.  The KMT’s list doesn’t have anyone from Chiayi or Yunlin, but they still have hopes of winning a district seat or two in those areas.  I suppose that’s not entirely accurate.  The list does have a few more southerners down further on the list who have no hope of winning (#20, 32, 33).

The other interesting name that jumps out at me is Chi Kuo-tung (#15), who is from Taichung County’s Black Faction.  One of the most interesting recent trends has been the shift of Taichung County toward the DPP.  One of the subtexts of this is that Taichung could be following the Chiayi model, in which a disgruntled local faction switches sides and completely shifts the partisan balance of power in the county.  The Black Faction certainly is disgruntled and demoralized right now.  They didn’t get any consideration last year for the mayoral nomination, they no longer have township mayors (which they dominated), and the Red Faction has much better ties with both the central government and the Taichung City government.  So it might be quite significant that the KMT is using one of its precious party list slots for a Black Faction leader.  Of course, this also keeps Chi’s home district open for everyone’s favorite legislator, Yen Ching-piao 顏清標.  Yen is also a core Black Faction politician, but as an independent, he, of course, cannot go on the KMT party list.  (Also, if they put one of Taiwan’s most famous gangsters on the party list, it might undermine the narrative that they care about the underprivileged.  Better to yield a district seat to him.)

There are a few notable names missing from the list.  Chu Feng-chih 朱鳳芝, Cheng Chin-ling 鄭金玲, and Chiang Hsiao-yen 蔣孝嚴 are incumbents who were rumored to be angling for spots on the list.  Wu Ching-chih 吳清池 appears at #21, which is essentially useless.  There is certainly a possibility that Chu (Taoyuan 5) and Cheng (Taoyuan 3) might run as independents.  These are both very, very blue districts, though there is a chance that the DPP could retain Taoyuan 3, which it miraculously won in a by-election, if Cheng splits the blue vote.  There could also be a backlash in Wu’s home district (New Taipei 7), where the race is very tight.

Name Comments (from CNA article)
1 王金平 立法院長
2 王育敏 兒童福利聯盟基金會執行長
3 曾巨威 財稅學者
4 楊玉欣 台灣弱勢病患權益促進會祕書長
5 邱文彥 環保署副署長
6 洪秀柱 立委
7 吳育仁 中正大學勞關系教授
8 潘維剛 立委
9 陳鎮湘 前國防大學校長
10 李貴敏 律師
11 蘇清泉 東港安泰醫院院長
12 陳碧涵 國立台灣戲曲學院教授
13 詹凱臣 僑務委員
14 徐少萍 立委
15 紀國棟 立委
16 陳淑慧 立委
17 尹啟銘 政務委員
18 詹滿容 學者
19 楊志良 前衛生署長
20 許宇甄 國民黨雲林縣黨部副主委
21 吳清池
22 王美只
23 林萬福
24 張瓊玲
25 簡明哲
26 賴素如
27 徐德馨
28 華真
29 李德維
30 邱素蘭
31 詹澈
32 吳陳瓊秋
33 吳威志
34 顏嬋娟

DPP party list

November 14, 2011

(Still cleaning up old stories.)

The DPP announced its party list on June 30.  Their 34 nominees are listed below along with the United Daily News’s comments on each person’s background.  These classifications are a bit arbitrary (Bi-khim Hsiao is most notable in the overseas voter world? Really?)  Also, factional affiliations are ever-shifting, and the reporters may not have gotten everything right.  (Apparently the New Tide and Justice factions no longer exist, but the Hsieh and Su factions do.  Sure.)  But it’s better than nothing.

(I originally wanted to put the comments from all three newspapers since their comments were all a bit different, but the data bases I have access to only show images from the UDN.  Sorry.)

The fight over the party list may have been just as important for its role in the presidential campaign as for choosing 14-17 members of the next legislature.  The party gave the chair the power to determine the list.  Tsai Ing-wen delegated the work to a committee, but the final decision was (at least formally) hers.  Putting together the list turned out to be a lot harder than many anticipated, and the announcement was delayed about a month while they tried to reach some sort of acceptable solution.  In the end, there was heavy criticism from both inside and outside the party.  The most common charge was that the list was simply an attempt to appease factions and balance their power.  Also, people from under-represented groups, experts, and other non-politicians were largely pushed aside in favor of established politicians.  All in all, Tsai’s image as an effective leader took a major hit from this episode.

Personally, these charges never bothered me much.  I don’t believe that a party list should be used for non-politicians.  If the politicians want to give a few spots to those kind of people that’s fine, but spots in the legislature should mostly be filled by people who have organized and effectively represent significant chunks of the population.  “Faction” may be a dirty word, but factions represent organization, political power, and, in the end, a lot of people.

Tsai’s poll numbers slipped a bit at about this time, and she seemed to lose the initiative in the campaign.  Before the nominations, it seemed to me that she was completely dominating the media discourse.  If she wanted to talk about nuclear power, for example, then the media and the KMT were forced to talk about nuclear power for the next week.  Afterward, the media discourse shifted to things that she didn’t necessarily choose, starting with this topic and continuing on through the difficult VP selection process and Su’s farm house.  I get the feeling that the Tsai campaign is only now emerging from this long slump, but it took four months.

Name sex UDN comment
1 陳節如 F 社福界
2 柯建銘 前正義連線
3 吳宜臻 ** F 台北市女性權益促進會理事長,客家籍
4 李應元 謝系
5 田秋堇 F 前新系
6 蔡煌瑯 前正義連線
7 蕭美琴 F 僑務界
8 陳其邁 高雄市府系統
9 鄭麗君 F 社運界
10 段宜康 前新系
11 尤美女 F 法界
12 吳秉叡 蘇系
13 薛凌 F 綠色友誼連線
14 余天 演藝界
15 翁金珠 F 前新系
16 游錫堃 前閣揆
17 陳瑩 F 原住民
18 蘇貞昌 前閣揆
19 黃淑英 F 前新系
20 謝長廷 前閣揆
21 楊芳婉 F 法界
22 蔡同榮 公媽派
23 卓春英 F 學界
24 趙永清 前正義連線
25 謝欣霓 F 謝系
26 施義芳 工程界
27 余莓莓 F 謝系
28 陳景峻 前正義連線
29 陳秀惠 F 原住民
30 賴萬枝 金融界
31 尹伶瑛 F 前立委
32 戴振耀 農界
33 王巧蓉 F 僑務界
34 涂醒哲 公媽派

**Number 3 was originally 鄭素華.  She withdrew under pressure because of vote-buying allegations.

TSU party list

November 13, 2011

(Catching up on old news stories.)

The TSU announced its party list last month.  The interesting thing is that they also announced that members elected from the party list would resign after two years, giving more people a chance to serve as legislators.

If it passes the 5% threshold, the TSU would probably get two seats.  I suppose there is an outside shot they could get as many as three, but they’d have to do really well and several other parties would have to get significant numbers of votes while falling just short of the threshold.  That means that four people would get a chance to call themselves legislators instead of just two.  For a small party, that is not insignificant.  They need people with a good title to speak to the media, raise money, and headline events.  Four people can do this more flexibly than two.  This is also an insurance policy for the future, in case one of their legislators becomes useless due to a scandal, death or illness, by changing parties, or whatever.

Of course, from the standpoint of building a legislature with members who have institutional knowledge, expertise, and experience in how to get things done in that unique environment, this is a disaster.

In Latin America, some countries have a “titular” and “suplente” member for each seat.  The supplemental legislator can fill in any time the titular legislator is absent.  This is somewhat different, since there is only one “real” legislator at any time.

The TSU can certainly force its legislators to yield the seats halfway through the term.  Under current law, if a party list legislator loses her party membership, she also loses her seat as soon as the party sends official notification to the legislature.  So the TSU could simply tell legislators to either resign or have their party membership and seats stripped away.

For the record, the first 10 people on the TSU list are

  1. 許忠信(成大法律系教授)
  2. 黃文玲(女、律師)
  3. 黃昆輝(黨主席)
  4. 林世嘉(女、醫界聯盟基金會執行長)
  5. 賴振昌(男、國立台北商業技術學院校長、會計師公會理事)
  6. 王戴春滿(女、前國代)
  7. 劉國隆(男、前台中市議員)
  8. 葉津鈴(女、民生之聲電台總監)
  9. 高基讚(男、台中市議員)
  10. 周倪安(女、台聯組織部副主任)