Posts Tagged ‘redistricting’

redistricting: Taipei County

March 8, 2011

I’ve been working a lot on the redistricting process from 2005-7, and one of the most striking things about the process was just how non-partisan it was.  This is not to say that it was completely non-partisan.  In fact, you find numerous indications of struggles for partisan advantage.  What I’m trying to say is that I expected a lot more.  Instead, almost every district (and indeed almost every proposal that was not eventually adopted) looks like it could have been drawn up by some person with detailed knowledge of local history, geography, economics, and transportation networks but absolutely no idea of the partisan balance.  In short, the designers showed remarkable restraint, possibly because they were electoral commissions and had to explain all their decisions without reference to partisan strength.

One of the mental exercises I’ve been doing is to throw all that restraint out the window and try to design a more advantageous plan for one party or another.  Sometimes this is really easy (eg: producing a better plan for the DPP in Taipei City), and sometimes it is extremely hard.  Here, I want to look at one of the hard cases.

Taipei County had 12 seats, the most in the country.  You would thus expect that there are lots of different variants, some better for the KMT and some better for the DPP, to choose from.  My theory says that, due to local conditions, the plan chosen should have benefitted the KMT.  This means that I should be able to see, or at least imagine, an alternate plan that is better for the DPP.  So let’s try to produce that plan.

First, there are some rules.  You have to respect geography, transportation networks, historical influences, and so on.  (This is as vague as it sounds.)  The population of any district can’t exceed 15% from the county mean.  Taipei County had 3698674 people, which means that each district should have an average of 308223 people.  So each district has to be between 85% (261990) and 115% (354456) of that mean.  You also have to respect township boundaries.  Unless a township exceeds 354456, it should not be divided between two electoral districts.  This restriction is not absolute, but you should try very hard not to violate it.  Four townships (Banqiao 板橋, Xinzhuang 新莊, Sanchong 三重, and Zhonghe 中和) have to be split.  It goes without saying (because it was so self-evident that they didn’t actually say it in the law) that districts must be geographically contiguous.  There is also one more rule that no one ever mentioned that I think was implicit: no township should be split into more than two pieces.

So here is the final plan.

It turns out that it is extremely hard to come up with a fundamentally different plan.  Yes, you can jigger a few lines here and there and switch a few voters, but it is very hard to design anything that looks completely different from this plan.

To understand why this is, start in Yonghe 永和 (in the 7 o’clock position).  Yonghe has a population of 234381, so it needs a few more people to get to the minimum population.  Since Yonghe only borders one township, Zhonghe, it is pretty obvious where these people will come from.  Conveniently, Zhonghe is too big to be its own district and needs to be split.  So the plan combines 69523 people in Zhonghe with all the Yonghe residents to form District 9 (D9), and all the other 337592 people in Zhonghe form D8.  Now, you could take a different 70000 people from Zhonghe, but both districts are so heavily pro-KMT that it wouldn’t matter.  (In fact, they appended the bluest areas of Zhonghe to Yonghe, which is even bluer.  So this plan is relatively good for the DPP, except that the DPP has very little chance of winning even this Zhonghe district.)  So, given our rules, you basically can’t avoid these two districts.

However, it turns out that this start goes a long way to determining the rest of the districts because Zhonghe links the townships to the east and west.  Now, on the map, Xindian 新店 (to the east) borders both Tucheng 土城 and Sanxia 三峽 (to the west), but those borders are all mountainous.  On the ground, everything goes through Zhonghe.  In other words, you can’t combine Xindian with Tucheng or Sanxia.

So let’s move east, going counterclockwise around Taipei City.  There are three huge puzzle pieces: Xindian (284997), Xizhi 汐止 (172909), and Danshui 淡水 (127140).  Everything else to the north, east, and south of Taipei City is relatively small.  None of the big three townships can go into the same electoral district, and none of them are big enough to split into two districts.  So you have to have one electoral district centered around each of the three townships.  So this means that you split the small townships in the SE region somewhere between Xindian and Xizhi to form D11 and D12.  Politically, it really doesn’t matter where you do this, since Xindian and Xizhi are so heavily blue that they simply overwhelm the green tendencies in the smaller townships.

The only flexibility is on the eastern border of the Danshui district (D1).  (Note: Danshui is the township on the north coast on the east bank of the mouth of the river.)  There are four townships between Danshui and Xizhi.  You can include as many of these as you like in D1.  So, to the east side of the river, D1 can have between 127140 and 203725 people.  Either way, we have to add some more.  Let’s go ahead and add 31527 from Bali, across the river.  Now we have between 158667 and 235252.  Still not enough.

Let’s stop for an aside from a Xinzhuang-centric 新莊 viewpoint.  I do this both because a politician based in that area screamed bloody-murder about the unfairness of the plan, and also because I think that this is probably how most people look at redistricting.  If you don’t think about the rest of the county, then it is quite obvious how things should be divided from the Xinzhuang perspective.  Xinzhuang is a big city on the north bank of the Da-han River 大漢溪, and it serves as the major economic center for the townships to the north.  If you combine the populations of Xinzhuang, Wugu 五股, Taishan 泰山, and Linkou 林口, you get 586888, which is enough for two districts.  If you add Bali 八里 (though Bali residents might argue that they have closer ties to Danshui), you get 618415, which is almost perfect.  So obviously, there should be one district with Wugu, Taishan, Linkou, Bali, and part of Xinzhuang, and another district made up from the rest of Xinzhuang.  Wonderful!  This even leaves a viable pair of districts for Sanchong 三重 and Luzhou 蘆洲, which together have 566882 people.  Unfortunately, as we have already discovered, this won’t work because of the areas on the north and east of Taipei City.  You would have to split Xizhi, and Xizhi isn’t big enough to be split.  So for mechanical reasons, what seems perfectly reasonable from the Xinzhuang-centric point of view turns out not to be viable.

Let’s go back to D1.  D1 has Danshui, Bali, and zero to four of the smaller townships on the north coast.  To meet the population requirement, we must add one or two of Wugu, Linkou, and Taishan.  Hold that thought.

We started in Zhonghe and moved counterclockwise.  Let’s go back and move in the other direction.  Banqiao 板橋 is to the northwest of Zhonghe.  Banqiao has 539534 people.  You can legally split this into two districts and be within the 15% limit, but they are pretty small.  We’d like to add some people if possible.  Unfortunately, it’s not clear where these people should come from.  To the north of Banqiao is the Da-han River.  This is a big geographic barrier, and it seems to violate common sense to add areas from the other side.  To the west and south are Shulin 樹林 and Tucheng.  Neither is big enough to split.  To the southeast is Zhonghe, which could spare 30000-40000 people.  However, Zhonghe has already been split, and this would require splitting it into three pieces.  Imagine the outrage.  All of these options have obvious flaws, and the obvious thing to do would simply be to split Banqiao into two very small districts.  That is what eventually happened to form D6 and D7.

Wait, there’s something else.  There is a partisan dimension to having small Banqiao districts.  The areas that might be added could affect the balance of power in the new D6 and D7.  The DPP is a lot stronger in Xinzhuang and Sanchong across the river, but adding people from those areas is highly unlikely.  More interestingly, the areas of Tucheng and Zhonghe that abut Banqiao are the DPP’s strongest areas in those cities.  The Zhonghe areas are slightly more pro-KMT than Banqiao and the Tucheng areas have a slightly more DPP tilt.  This matters because Banqiao is currently almost a tossup.  Moving the balance just a bit one way or the other could be decisive.  Now, the Tucheng areas come out of another tossup district, so the only question there is whether you would rather win one district or another.  However, putting the Zhonghe areas with Banqiao would strengthen the KMT in both Banqiao and D8 (which would be losing the only areas in which the two parties are even close and thus become even more overwhelmingly blue).  However, it’s a small shift, and it would require splitting Zhonghe into three pieces.

So if you aren’t going to do any of that, and you just keep the two small Banqiao districts, the next step is obvious.  Tucheng and Sanxia almost have to form D10, since there is nothing left unused to their southeast.  Fortunately, they jointly have 319876 people, which is almost ideal.  However, the next townships over, Yingge 鶯歌 and Shulin, don’t have quite enough people (238112) to form their own district (D5).  This means D5 needs a few more people, and Xinzhuang is the only available source.  The rest of Xinzhuang then forms D4.

This brings us back to D1, D2, and D3.  Sanchong is too big and has to be split.  So most of Sanchong will form D3, and the rest can only go across the river to Banqiao (which we have already dismissed as unrealistic), west to Xinzhuang (which already has enough people), or north to Luzhou.  Conveniently, Luzhou and Sanchong have close ties historically, economically, transportationally, politically, etc-ly.  Sanchong and Luzhou have enough population to form two undersized districts, but D1 can only include two of Wugu, Taishan, and Linkou.  Since Wugu adjoins Luzhou, it has to go into D2 while the other two go into D1.

Shockingly, there is very little room for maneuver in all this.  Nearly every significant change entails breaking one of our explicit or implicit rules.  You can fiddle around with some of the minor details, but it is very hard to come up with something fundamentally different.

(For reference: In the final stages of the redistricting process, there were in fact two plans, one supported by the green camp and one supported by the blue camp.  However, these two plans were almost exactly identical.  The only difference was that the green camp’s plan shifted 9 li (42351 people) from Xinzhuang into D5 and the blue camp’s favored plan shifted 13 li (61957 people).  This had almost zero partisan impact.  They decided by drawing lots.  The former plan won.)

There are really only two fundamentally different alternate plans that I can see.  Late in the process, I saw a newspaper report of a KMT legislator who suggested dividing Tucheng.  I never saw another mention of this plan, so it must have been squashed.  However, you can see how this might have worked:

D6: 316000 (the rest of Banqiao)

D7: 316074 (Banqiao: 223534, Tucheng: 92540)

D10: 309741 (Tucheng: 140000, Yingge, Sanxia)

D5: 304770 (Xinzhuang 80000, Shulin, Taishan)

D4: 305480 (the rest of Xinzhuang)

D1: 293197 (all townships on north coast, Linkou to Wanli)

D12: 282756 (Xizhi plus all townships to SE of Taipei)

D11: 287878 (Xindian and Wulai)

D8, D9, D2, D3: no change

What kind of partisan impact would this have?  D6 and/or D7 would probably be slightly more prone to go to the DPP than in the actual plan.  D10 would probably be about the same.  It would lose some mildly pro-DPP areas to D6 and D7, but it would gain Yingge, which is also mildly pro-DPP.  D5 would effectively be trading Yingge for Taishan and a little more of the western tip of Xinzhuang.  This is probably a slight gain for the KMT.  D1 would lose Taishan but gain Jinshan and Wanli.  That’s probably a wash.  D11 and D12 are too blue to worry about any minor changes.  Overall, the partisan impact would be mild, though it looks to me like it would probably benefit the DPP more than the KMT.  The bigger impact would be on which politicians from each party were advantaged.  For example, in the current D10, Tucheng makes up about three-fourths of the district.  That makes it all but inevitable that the representative will come from Tucheng.  In the alternate plan, Tucheng is only about half of the district, and a good chunk of Tucheng is buried inside one of the Banqiao districts.  This makes it a lot harder for an ambitious Tucheng politician to win a legislative seat.

The other alternate plan is much simpler.  Currently Banqiao City is divided into a northern and southern district.  Earlier, I said that they were both tossup districts, but that isn’t quite right.  After the Tsai Ing-wen’s strong performance in the 2010 election, they look like tossup districts, but from a longer term perspective, the KMT should be slightly favored in both.  Even more precisely, the KMT has a very miniscule edge in the northern district (D6) and a somewhat larger edge in D7 (where the KMT is roughly 3% stronger).  Tsai Ing-wen got 50.3% in Banqiao, so I’m guessing she won about 49% in D7 and 52% in D6.

Now, since Banqiao has to be divided, it can be divided in pretty much any way you like.  If I wanted to put as many DPP votes as possible into one district and as many KMT votes as possible into the other, I would slightly tilt that axis and have a northeast and a southwest district.  By doing that, you could shift about each district by about 2%.  That is, instead of being 3% different, the two districts would be more like 7% different.  Instead of having two districts that are roughly similar, one would be clearly better for each party.  To put it another way, looking from the lens of 2006, in the actual plan the KMT seems to have a slight advantage in both districts.  If we redivided Banqiao, the KMT would be favored to win one district easily, but the DPP would have a good chance of winning the other district.  If I were a local KMT politician in 2006, I would want two good districts to choose from.  Likewise, if I were a local DPP politician, I would want one solid district rather than two possible but not likely districts.  However, if I were a national party strategist, I might want the opposite.  If the DPP wants to win a majority in the legislature, it probably has to win both of these districts.  By making them both roughly the same, the planners marginally increased the DPP’s chances of taking power in the legislature.

(In the earliest stages of the redistricting process, the Taipei County Electoral Commission suggested a plan that divided the city along Zhongshan Rd 中山路 instead of Xianmin Blvd 縣民大道  (ie: the railroad).  This would have been roughly halfway between the eventual plan and my completely politicized Frankenstein plan.  However, that plan was dropped.)

With 12 districts, this doesn’t seem like a whole lot of scheming.  Of the three viable plans that I can think of, the eventual one was perhaps the most advantageous for the KMT.  However, these advantages are surprisingly slight.  Given the original rules, there really isn’t much to complain about for either side.

More on redistricting

May 26, 2010

I found two very interesting documents on the CEC website today that add quite a bit of flesh to the redistricting stories from the three previous posts.

The first document is a transcript of the public hearing held on April 26, 2010.  There are several interesting things from this document.

I had speculated that there were KMT factional reasons for putting the two villages from Dali City back in with the rest of Dali City in the new Taichung District 7.  In fact, the original CEC plan was to leave the districts unchanged.  At the public hearing, DPP legislator Jian Zhaodong 簡肇棟 (who represents Dali City) suggested that the change be made.  He also said that all factions and parties supported this move.  So the faction speculation seems to be ungrounded in this case.

(Note: The document with the CEC’s redistricting plan that I have been discussing is dated May 4, 2010.  So it is the plan including adjustments made after this public hearing.  There was apparently a different draft before the public hearing.)

Xu Yangming 許陽明, a former DPP legislator and former Vice-mayor (of Kaohsiung?), complained that the legislative districts keep changing.  The 6th LY had the old system, the (current) 7th LY changed to the new system, the CEC is currently rearranging districts in the new direct municipalities for the 8th term, and, after the new mayors redraw administrative district lines in the new direct municipalities, they will have to redraw legislative districts for the 9th term.  OK, I don’t really care that the districts keep changing.  The interesting part of this is the idea that one of the first tasks at hand for the new mayors will be to redraw the administrative district lines.  It is a reasonable task.  There are vast population differences between the various townships, and, without mayoral and town council elections, they won’t really have independent legal identities anyway.  Beyond that, though, this is also a response to the KMT’s plan to appease its grassroots supporters.  If you remember, a few months ago, the legislature passed a law to appoint current township mayors (who have not already served two terms) as new district heads and current town councils as new advisory council members.  The KMT dominates these grassroots offices, and it wanted to take care of its people (who should return the favor by working hard in the 2012 election).  The DPP response is to simply redraw the lines!  Ok, maybe the law made you head of the old district, but that district no longer exists.  As for the new district, since the office is vacant, I’ll appoint my own person.  Nice!

There was a lot of discussion of Tainan Districts 5 and 6, as I suspected.  Apparently the original draft split the East district, putting part of it into each of the two districts while putting the South into District 6.  You might recognize this as the alternate plan I suggested if crossing administrative lines were allowable.  A few people spoke in favor of changing the scheme.  NCKU professor Zhou Zhijie 周志杰 was the principal proponent, giving four broad reasons for the change.  First, the original plan split an administrative district, presenting difficulties for representation, constituency service, and administration of elections.  Second, the South district is closer to the four townships in terms of level of urbanization, economic development, and transportation links (citing Expressway 88).  Third, the East district is characterized by the education and service sectors, while the South district is more of a manufacturing and industrial area.  This makes the South a better match for the largely agricultural four townships.  Fourth, population growth in Tainan is concentrated in Yongkang and the East district.  As such, these areas should be supplemented with other townships/districts to meet the necessary population requirements.  In the future, they might be large enough to be a legislative district without any supplements.

Notice that these arguments make no reference to politics.  Partisan advantage might be the underlying reason for wanting the change, but it is not a legitimate consideration in this forum.  You have to make your argument in terms of “technical” criteria.  I don’t know if the technical arguments will be the real deciding factors or not.  It could be that the real decision is made behind the scenes and they simply use this technical language to justify the political decisions.  However, we should not dismiss the possibility that the CEC really is a neutral decision-making body, and the technical arguments are the decisive arguments, at least at this stage.  After all, there is little reason for the CEC to be too overtly political; the political horse-trading will have plenty of opportunities to change the plan when it goes to the legislature.

That said, I’m interested by Zhou’s arguments.  To me, the fourth argument is silly.  If anything, you should give less, not more, priority to fast-growing areas.  After all, you have little idea what they will look like in the future.  They could require a number of different adjustments.  Moreover, I am not aware of any ideal for an administrative district to be an electoral district by itself.  Besides, if the administrative lines are redrawn, today’s East district probably won’t exist in the same form tomorrow.  I think the second and third arguments, about cohesiveness are potentially much better.  However, I would dispute the argument about transportation links.  The road that Zhou cites, Expressway 88, is a brand new road.  There is not much development along it.  Except for this road, Rende Township is basically cut off from the South district by the airport.  The older, more established roads going from Rende Township into Tainan City all go into the East district.  Since the transportation links clearly connect Rende and East, I’m guessing that all the other economic relationships are also closer.  In other words, I think that politics was probably driving the effort to revise the proposal.

The final interesting point from the public hearing involved Kaohsiung’s loss of a seat.  Lots of people complained about this.  The CEC official answered that the formula in use has not change since legislative elections began in 1969.  I found the document discussing reapportionment on the CEC’s website, dated Jan. 15, 2010.  That document has one nice table, but the formatting limitations of this blog keep me from just copying it.  So I’ll cut it into several pieces.

First, we start with the population of each county/city in November 2009 (one year before the election).  If you divide the total population by 73 (the number of single seat districts, SSDs), you get 309662.  All counties that have fewer than 309662 people get one seat.

county population Under 309662?
Xinbei 3,822,431
Taipei 2,594,795
Taichung 2,607,331
Tainan 1,869,627
Kaohsiung 2,741,677
Ilan 446,436
Taoyuan 1,919,370
Hsinchu County 490,791
Miaoli 551,119
Nantou 502,855
Changhua 1,307,586
Yunlin 721,093
Chiayi County 542,037
Pingdong 826,023
Taidong 152,454 Y
Hualian 250,396 Y
Penghu 95,671 Y
Jilong City 379,865
Hsinchu City 408,115
Chiayi City 273,105 Y
Jinmen 92,712 Y
Lianjiang 9,785 Y
Total 22,605,274 6

Eliminate those six districts.  This leaves us with 67 seats and 21731151 people, or 324345 per seat.  Each 324345 people make one quota.  Calculate how many full quotas each county gets and the remaining population left over.  There are 60 full quotas.  Since there are 67 seats that need to be filled, the seven largest remainders get the last seven seats.  So Nantou and Pingdong got the last two seats, while Hsinchu County and Pingdong are the first losers.

county population quotas remainder Plus one? Total
Xinbei 3,822,431 11 254,636 1 12
Taipei 2,594,795 8 35 0 8
Taichung 2,607,331 8 12,571 0 8
Tainan 1,869,627 5 247,902 1 6
Kaohsiung 2,741,677 8 146,917 0 8
Ilan 446,436 1 122,091 0 1
Taoyuan 1,919,370 5 297,645 1 6
Hsinchu County 490,791 1 166,446 0 1
Miaoli 551,119 1 226,774 1 2
Nantou 502,855 1 178,510 1 2
Changhua 1,307,586 4 10,206 0 4
Yunlin 721,093 2 72,403 0 2
Chiayi County 542,037 1 217,692 1 2
Pingdong 826,023 2 177,333 1 3
Taidong 0 0 0 1
Hualian 0 0 0 1
Penghu 0 0 0 1
Jilong City 379,865 1 55,520 0 1
Hsinchu City 408,115 1 83,770 0 1
Chiayi City 0 0 0 1
Jinmen 0 0 0 1
Lianjiang 0 0 0 1
Total 21,731,151 60 7 73

In jargon, this is a Largest Remainders System.  There are different versions of this system which would yield slightly different results, but this system is perfectly defensible.  Anyway, the most important thing in judging the fairness of the apportionment system is perhaps not the system itself, but whether it is seen as a politically calculated method that systematically advantages one side or whether it is simply a technical exercise.  This method has been in use for forty years, and the first loser always complains.  However, since there hasn’t been any real pattern to who loses over the years, I don’t see much legitimacy to these complaints.

Redistricting in Tainan

May 25, 2010

After looking at the Taichung and Kaohsiung redistricting plans, today I want to look at the plan for Tainan.  Tainan is gaining a seat.  Previously it had three in the county and two in the city.  All five of these were very “heavy” seats (average population: 372725).  When the city and county are combined the two remainders naturally combine to give Greater Tainan one more seat.  Now each of Tainan’s six seats will have an average of only 311605 people.  As in Kaohsiung, the changing number of seats basically requires that at least one of the new seats must cross the county/city boundaries.  So here are the old system and the CEC’s proposal:

Old System

# areas areas pop
1 新營、鹽水、白河、柳營、後壁、東山、下營、六甲、官田、學甲、將軍、北門 Xinying, Yanshui, Baihe, Liuying, Houbi, Dongshan, Xiaying, Liujia, Guantian, Xuejia, Jiangjun 349547
2 麻豆、大內、佳里、西港、七股、新化、善化、新市、安定、山上、玉井、楠西、南化、左鎮 Madou, Danei, Jiali, Xigang, Qigu, Xinhua, Shanhua, Xinshi, Anding, Shanshang, Yujing, Nanxi, Nanhua, Zuozhen 369284
3 永康、仁德、歸仁、關廟、龍崎 Yongkang, Rende, Guiren, Guanmiao, Longqi 383037
4 中西、北區、安南 Central-West, North, Annan 382425
5 東區、南區、安平 East, South, Anping 379333

CEC proposal

# areas areas pop
1 後壁、白河、北門、學甲、鹽水、新營、柳營、東山、將軍、六甲 Houbi, Baihe, Beimen, Xuejia, Yanshui, Xinying, Liuying, Dongshan, Jiangjun, Liujia 295946
2 下營、官田、七股、佳里、麻豆、大內、玉井、楠西、西港、山上、新化、左鎮、南化 Xiaying, Guantian, Qigu, Jiali, Madou, Danei, Yujing, Nanxi, Xigang, Shanshang, Xinshi, Zuozhen, Nanhua 308677
3 善化、安定、新市、永康 Shanhua, Anding, Xinshi, Yongkang 321121
4 安南、北區 Annan, North 307382
5 中西、安平、東區 Central-West, Anping, East 335159
6 南區、仁德、歸仁、關廟、龍崎 South, Rende, Guiren, Guanmiao, Longqi 301342

But, hey, none of us really cares too much about those tables; we care about the political effects of them.  So let’s look at the partisan balance of the old and new districts, using the 2008 party list vote for each camp as our indicator.

# blue green incumbent incumbent party
1 39.8 55.9 葉宜津 Ye Yijin DPP
2 39.4 56.3 黃偉哲 Huang Weizhe DPP
3 45.1 51.2 李俊毅 Li Junyi DPP
4 44.6 52.0 陳婷妃 Chen Tingfei DPP
5 48.7 47.9 賴清德 Lai Qingde DPP

CEC proposal

# blue green notes
1 40.3 55.4 old #1 minus Xiaying, Guantian
2 39.4 56.3 old #2 plus Xiaying, Guantian; minus Shanhua, Anding, Xinshi
3 44.7 51.7 new district
4 44.6 51.9 old #4 minus Central-West
5 50.2 46.4 old #5 minus South plus Central-West
6 42.3 54.1 old #3 minus Yongkang plus South

The most striking thing is that the new plan makes it possible for the KMT to win a seat.  Currently, the DPP holds all five seats, but the new plan creates a seat (District 5) in which the blue camp got nearly 4% more than the green camp in 2008.  (Remember the caveat: 2008 was a terrible year for the green camp, so you must adjust everything down for the KMT and up for the DPP.)  We’ll come back to District 5 later.

District 1 has only minor changes.  It remains a DPP stronghold.

District 2 has more changes with several townships leaving the district and others coming in, but the net partisan impact is minimal.  Incumbent Huang Weizhe’s hometown, Madou, is still in the district, so Huang will continue to enjoy the DPP’s best district in the entire country.

Most of the new District 3 is from the old #3 (Yongkang) plus a few townships from the old #2 to fill out the population.  I am calling this a new district because the incumbent, Li Junyi, in the old #3 is almost sure to compete in the new District 6.  Without Li, a six-term incumbent, this district could be competitive.  However, it should still favor the DPP.  The two parties are basically even in Yongkang, but the smaller surrounding townships tilt the balance.

The new District 4 is roughly the old #4, minus the Central-West district.  The partisan balance is basically unchanged.  In the last election, Chen Tingfei barely won, even though the district clearly leans to the DPP.  She has been a fairly high-profile legislator these two years, and I expect her to have an easier go of it in her re-election bid.

The new District 5 is going to be the controversial one.  According to the 2008 party list votes, the KMT should have had a slight edge in the old district.  However, it was won by Lai Qingde, who barely edged Gao Sibo (Zhu Lilun’s brother-in-law).  In the old district, there were three areas.  The East has the biggest population and is the only administrative district in Tainan City that clearly leans to the KMT.  This was balanced by the South, which is smaller, but leans Green heavily enough to cancel out the KMT’s margin from the East.  Anping is roughly even.  In the redistricting plan, the CEC removed the South and replaced it with the Central-West.  The Central-West is only about 2/3 the size of the South and it is not quite as heavily Green.  The result is a district dominated by the Blue-leaning East.  Somehow, a seat has appeared in Tainan that the KMT could very easily win.  Moreover, the DPP will almost certainly not have an incumbent to defend this seat, since Lai will likely be mayor by the end of the year.

The new district 6 is carved out of the more rural areas of the old #3.  Li Junyi will stay with his bailiwick, which is centered on his hometown of Guiren.  He will probably be happy to bid adieu to Yongkang, since he has never gotten many votes there anyway.  This district will remain a safe DPP district.

I have two other questions that I want to address.  First, county executive Su Huanzhi sparked my interest in this whole redistricting question last week when he attacked the CEC plan and offered his own alternative.  I assumed it must have something to do with gerrymandering.  My suspicions were heightened when I saw the partisan balance of the new District 5.  Certainly Su and the rest of the DPP would not stand for that.  Imagine my surprise to find that Su’s plan had nothing to do with District 5.  In fact, it merely rearranges Districts 2 and 3.  Roughly, it replaces the small townships (Shanhua, Xinshi, Anding) to the north of Yongkang with a different set of small townships (Xinhua, Danei, Shanshang, Yujing, Nanxi, Nanhua, Zuozhen) to the west. Both of these groups have just over 100000 people.  Su’s argument is that the townships to the west have historical, commercial, and other ties to Yongkang, not to the rest of District 2.  The townships to the north have ties with both and could go either way.

Great, but what would the political effect of such a move be?  In the CEC’s plan, the DPP has a 17 point advantage in District 2 and a 7 point advantage in District 3.  In Su’s plan, the DPP advantage in District 2 swells to a whopping 25 points.  In District 3 however, the KMT has a 1 point advantage.  In other words, the DPP county executive’s plan is a masterful gerrymander, packing the DPP supporters into District 2 so that the KMT has a chance in District 3.  In related news, Su Huanzhi is an idiot.  (I think I’ll stop here, while I’m still being polite.)

The second question is whether District 5 is contrived or necessary.  That is, did the CEC move mountains to create a good district for the KMT, or is this just the most obvious way to divide up Tainan?  I tried to create an alternate plan that followed three conditions: (1) the districts had relatively even population, (2) no administrative lines were crossed, and (3) historically tied clumps of townships in Tainan County (ie: the two clumps discussed in Su’s plan plus the clump of four townships in the new District 6) were not divided.  After about an hour of arranging and rearranging, I gave up.  The CEC plan was the only reasonable plan I could come up with.

Does that mean it is the best? Of course not!  A glance at the map suggest that the East district is a better combination than the South with the Guiren-Rende-Guanmiao-Longqi clump, but the East is simply too big.  However, if you are willing to cross administrative lines – and these don’t matter nearly as much in an urban setting as in a rural setting – then you could shift the South back to District 5 and even out the population by putting part of the East in District 5 and part in District 6.  There is a good argument that this arrangement is more natural, judging by transportation arteries.  Politically, it would almost certainly create two safe districts for the DPP.

I expect we have not heard the last of how to deal with the East and South districts.

Kaohsiung Legislative Redistricting

May 24, 2010

I want to continue looking at the CEC’s redistricting plans for legislative yuan elections in the three direct municipalities that are changing borders.  Today we will look at Greater Kaohsiung.

The first big thing is that Kaohsiung is apparently losing a seat.  In 2008, Kaohsiung City had five seats and Kaohsiung County had four; this plan only lists eight seats.  As one might expect, these go from being relatively “light” districts (average population in 2008: 303972) to relatively “heavy” districts (average population in new districts: 342710).  I had expected that Nantou County, not Kaohsiung City, would lose the seat that Tainan County is gaining.  Maybe there are also other changes afoot.  The new plan has more equally sized districts than the old system; the standard deviation drops from 29237 to 21486.

Here are the old districts.  The first five are from Kaohsiung City, and the last four are in Kaohsiung County.

Townships/districts Pop.
1 左營 , 楠梓 Zuoying, Nanzi 350398
2 鹽埕 , 鼓山 , 旗津 , 三民 (部分) Yancheng, Gushan, Qijin, Sanmin (part) 270140
3 三民 (部分) Sanmin (part) 265710
4 新興 , 前金 , 苓雅 , 前鎮 (部分) Xinxing, Qianjin, Lingya, Qianzhen (part) 308251
5 小港 , 前鎮 (部分) Xiaogang, Qianzhen (part) 313616
6 大樹 , 大社 , 燕巢 , 田寮 , 阿蓮 , 旗山 , 美濃 , 六龜 , 甲仙 , 杉林 , 內門 , 茂林 , 桃源 , 那瑪夏 Dashu, Dashe, Yanchao, Tianliao, Alian, Qishan, Meinong, Liugui, Jiaxian, Shanlin, Neimen, Maolin, Taoyuan, Namaxia 284882
7 岡山 , 橋頭 , 路竹 , 湖內 , 茄萣 , 永安 , 彌陀 , 梓官 Gangshan, Qiaotou, Luzhu, Hunei, Jiading, Yong’an, Mituo, Ziguan 318899
8 林園 , 大寮 , 仁武 , 鳥松 Linyuan, Daliao, Renwu, Niaosong 286931
9 鳳山 Fengshan 336920

Oh, that’s boring.  Let’s throw in some political characteristics.  I’m listing the 2008 party list votes for the blue (KMT+New) and green (DPP+TSU) camps as well as the current incumbent.

blue green incumbent incumbent party
1 55.6 41.1 黃昭順 Huang Zhaoshun KMT
2 46.4 50.6 官碧玲 Guan Biling DPP
3 48.1 48.5 侯彩鳳 Hou Caifeng KMT
4 49.1 47.6 李復興 Li Fuxing KMT
5 46.0 50.6 郭玟成 Guo Wencheng DPP
6 45.0 47.9 鍾紹和 Zhong Shaohe KMT
7 46.8 48.2 林益世 Lin Yishi KMT
8 42.9 52.3 陳啟昱 Chen Qiyu DPP
9 51.4 45.3 江玲君 Jiang Lingjun KMT

You can see what a lousy election the DPP had. They lost three districts in which the green camp got more party list votes than the blue camp.  Part of that is due to good KMT candidates (Districts 6 and 7).  In District 3, the DPP lost due to a splinter candidate who took 7% of the vote.

Now let’s look at the CEC’s new plan:

Townships/districts Pop.
1 桃源、那瑪夏、甲仙、六龜、杉林、內門、旗山、美濃、茂林、茄萣、湖內、路竹、永安、阿蓮、田寮、燕巢 Taoyuan, Namaxia, Jiaxian, Liugui, Shanlin, Neimen, Qishan, Meinong, Maolin, Jiading, Hunei, Luzhu, Yong’an, Alian, Tianliao, Yanchao 332,076
2 岡山、彌陀、梓官、橋頭、楠梓 Gangshan, Mituo, Ziguan, Qiaotou, Nanzi 359,714
3 大社、仁武、鳥松、大樹、大寮、林園 Dashe, Renwu, Niaosong, Dushu, Daliao, Linyuan 366,029
4 左營、鼓山、旗津 Zuoying, Gushan, Qishan 346,380
5 三民 Sanmin 354,061
6 鳳山 Fengshan 337,871
7 鹽埕、前金、新興、苓雅 Yancheng, Qianjin, Xinxing, Lingya 297,034
8 前鎮、小港 Qianzhen, Xiaogang 348,512

Here’s the party list vote in each of the new districts, plus a brief summary of how it was constructed from the old districts:

blue green Notes
1 46.8 46.2 old #6 plus Hunei, Yong’an, Jiading, Luzhu
2 49.2 46.6 half from old #1, half from old #7
3 42.2 53.1 old #8 plus Dashe, Dashu
4 54.7 42.1 half from old #1, half from old #2
5 46.4 50.4 half from old #2, half from old #3
6 51.4 45.3 old #9
7 48.6 48.2 old #4 plus Yancheng, minus part of Qianzhen
8 46.3 50.3 old #5 plus rest of Qianzhen

Maybe we’re getting into table overload here (impossible!).  In the following, I’ll look at each district with a special emphasis on how these changes look to the incumbent.

District 1 is basically the old district 6 plus four townships.  Geographically, this is by far the largest and most rural district.  It runs from the deep mountains along the northern border all the way to the ocean.  It is ethnically diverse, with lots of Hakkas and Aborigines interspersed with the majority Minnan.  There are relatively fewer mainlanders here, though.  The addition of the four coastal towns tilts the party balance somewhat toward the KMT.  (Keep in mind that 2008 was a very good year for the KMT; present party strength is probably somewhat more favorable to the DPP.)  However, just by looking at raw party strength, this should be a very competitive district.  In fact, I don’t expect the KMT to lose it.  Reportedly, Zhong Shaohe 鍾紹和 has complained that it is too big.  Literature from American politics suggests that he should be happy about the size and complexity of his district.  If it is difficult for him to “digest,” imagine how hard it will be for a challenger who only has a few months.

District 2 is the weird one.  It is the only district to cross the county/city line.  About half the district comes from the old #1 and the other half comes from the old #7.  From a partisan viewpoint, this is a very competitive district.  The KMT had a slight edge in 2008, but it is probably closer to even today.  I would expect Lin Yishi 林益世 to try to run for re-election in this district.  It’s not a very good district for him, since he has spent his whole life working Kaoshiung County and half of this district is in the City, but the other obvious choices already have KMT incumbents.  If the KMT were trying to rig these districts, screwing over one of their better legislators is not exactly the best way to go about it.  In fact, this district makes me doubt that the CEC’s plan will make it through the legislative process without major surgery.

District 3 is the Greenest of any of these districts.  The DPP had a 52-43 advantage in the old #8, and that has been extended to a 53-42 lead in this new district.  Unlike District 2, this looks like classic gerrymandering.  Gerrymandering has two classic strategies, cracking and packing.  District 2 is a good example of cracking, in which an incumbent’s district is dismembered.  Rather, it would be a good example if Lin Yishi were a DPP legislator.  District 3 is a mild example of packing.  In the packing strategy, you sacrifice one district by putting the opponent’s strongest areas in it.  This gives you a better shot at winning the other districts.  I’m not insinuating anything immoral in this particular case.  If the old #8 had to be expanded, Dashu and Dashe are the obvious additions.  It just happens that they are also DPP strongholds, thereby making an already Green district even Greener.

District 4 comes partly from the old #1 and partly from the old #2.  This is the KMT’s best district in Kaohsiung, mostly due to the heavy military and mainlander presence in the Zuoying area.  I expect Huang Zhaoshun 黃昭順 to run for re-election in this district.  (I am assuming that she will (a) lose the mayoral election and (b) run for re-election instead of retiring or taking a sinecure in a state-owned enterprise or the like.)  Huang could, of course, choose to stay with the other half of her current district and run in District 2, but I expect she will prefer to stay in Zuoying with all the KMT votes.

The new District 5 is Sanmin District.  Sanmin was previously split between #2 and #3.  Politically, this area leans to the DPP, but the KMT won #3 last time.  I think this may be the district that sees two incumbents battle each other.  The KMT’s Hou Caifeng 侯彩鳳 has no other choice since her old seat was entirely based in Sanmin District last time.  DPP old District #2 incumbent Guan Biling 官碧玲 has to choose between following most of her old district into the new District 4 or competing in the new District 5.  Since District 4 is such a lousy district for a DPP candidate, I expect her to choose District 5.  That would make this one of the more explosive races in the next election.

The new District 6 is the only one that is completely unchanged.  This district is Fengshan City.  Fengshan leans slightly blue and has a fair number of mainlander votes.  Last time, in a battle between two 30ish women, the KMT barely won.  A rematch seems likely, since the winner has done almost nothing to distinguish herself and the loser had a very good personal reputation.

District 7 is very similar to the old #4.  This is another bit of evidence against the idea that the CEC is proactively gerrymandering districts in favor of the KMT.  The KMT incumbent, Li Fuxing 李復興, will get a slightly worse district.  In his old district, the KMT had a 1.5% advantage; the new district’s margin is only 0.4%.  He had better be working the district intensively because he faces a tough, tough election.

District 8 is similar to the old #5.  This is a DPP-leaning district with a DPP incumbent.  The redistricting plan doesn’t really change the partisan balance, and I would expect this to be one of the easier DPP victories in the next election.

As I said before, I’m not very confident that this plan will sail through the legislature unchanged.  Lin Yishi 林益世 gets the worst treatment of any politician, and he is a powerful KMT floor leader in the legislature.  If I were him, I would kill this plan unless the KMT agreed to put me high on the party list in the next election.  Even that might not work.  While many faction politicians are happy to get a “free” election (in every sense), they also like knowing that they can go back to the district in the future if the party leadership decides to move them down the list.  In addition, Lin Yishi has to consider his network.  He is a second-generation stalwart of the Kaohsiung County Red Faction, and his network might not be willing to see their champion abandon electoral politics or shift into new territory.

Taichung legislative redistricting

May 21, 2010

So there’s a new poll out today showing that … blah, blah, blah.  Let’s talk about something fun instead.

About two weeks ago, the Central Election Commission announced a draft plan for redrawing the legislative districts in the new Taichung, Tainan, and Kaohsiung Cities.  The CEC will introduce the bill to the legislature sometime soon.  Tainan County Executive Su Huanzhi 蘇煥智 has lobbed the first (public) volley, claiming the plan for Tainan is unreasonable.  So let’s take a closer look at these plans.

First, the Greater Taichung plan appears to fall under the category “nothing to see here.”  Six of the eight districts are exactly the same.  The only change is very minor.  In the old plan, two li in Dali City (accounting for a little less than 5000 votes in 2008) that had been given to another district to even out populations have been placed back in the district with the rest of Dali City (soon to be Dali District).  That’s entirely reasonable since there is a general consensus against crossing administrative lines if it can be avoided, and 5000 votes isn’t really that many.  After all, when part of a community is in one district and part is in another, the whole community gets less than ideal representation.  Neither legislator thinks of that community as a core part of his constituency.  Half of any effort he expends accrues to the benefit of some other legislator.  In fact, this is part of a larger trend.  In the current plans for the three direct municipalities, zero township lines are crossed.  In the Taichung plan, the districts don’t even cross the former county/city boundaries.

The districting for the 7th (current) legislature was not so strict.  A couple of township/district lines were crossed in Kaohsiung City as well as the aforementioned line in Dali City.  It could be that those districts have been deemed failures and the CEC is learning.  It could also be that there is something else.  The obvious something else is factional organization.

Local factions are generally organized along administrative lines, so when you cross either county or township borders, you are splitting the strength of local factions.  They get stuck in a position of having half of their members in one legislative district and half in another.  This is less than ideal.  More accurately, it is a disaster for them.

Factional politics have several effects.  They are based on localism; they tend to be associated with money politics, corruption, and organized crime; they live off of pork-barrel projects.  (There are also less-emphasized positive effects.  In a multi-member district, they form a basis for equitably dividing strength among multiple candidates so that voters don’t waste their influence.  They also integrate people into the system who otherwise would not be politically active.)  In Taiwan, factional politicians are also (still) overwhelmingly associated with the KMT.  Since the CEC has tended to make decisions favorable to the incumbent president, it is tempting to wonder if the CEC in 2007 was more willing to split up local factions than the CEC in 2010 because of the partisan effects.  (Problem: the CEC didn’t make the final decision; the legislature did.  I don’t know what the CEC’s plan was last time.)

There are costs to keeping the lines intact.  The most obvious is unequal populations across districts.  This is the CEC’s proposed plan for Taichung:

# Towns towns population
1 大甲區、大安區、外埔區、清水區、梧棲區 Dajia, Da’an, Waipu, Qingshui, Wuqi 271755
2 沙鹿區、龍井區、大肚區、烏日區、霧峰區 Shalu, Longjing, Dadu, Wuri, Wufeng 342900
3 后里區、神岡區、大雅區、潭子區 Houli, Shen’gang, Daya, Tanzi 307397
4 西屯區、南屯區 Xitun, Nantun 356816
5 北屯區、北區 Beitun, North 393079
6 西區、中區、東區、
West, Central, East, South 327287
7 太平區、大里區 Taiping, Dali 369291
8 豐原區、石岡區、新社區、東勢區、和平區 Fengyuan, Shigang, Xinshe, Dongshi, Heping 271437

(Note: my population figures are slightly higher than the one’s cited on the CEC document.  Most of the differences are within 5000.  I am using April 2010 population stats.  They might have been able to remove people with aboriginal status.)

The difference in population from district to district is striking.  The largest is 45% larger than the smallest.  The standard deviation is 44318.

Could we reduce these discrepancies?  Sure.  Here’s a plan a produced off the cuff.  All of these districts are geographically contiguous, by the way.

# Towns population
1 Dajia, Da’an, Waipu, Qingshui, Wuqi, Houli 326060
2 Shalu, Longjing, Dadu, Wuri, Wufeng 342900
3 Daya, Tanzi, Beitun (145287) 334527
4 Xitun, Nantun 356816
5 East, North, Beitun (100000) 321580
6 West, Central, South, Dali (60000) 313499
7 Taiping, Dali (136736) 309291
8 Fengyuan, Shigang, Xinshe, Dongshi, Heping, Shen’gang 335289

By ignoring a couple of township lines and liberally crossing county/city lines, I was able to reduce the standard deviation to 15682, with the biggest district being only 15% larger than the smallest.  I’m sure I could easily top that if I were willing to work a little harder.

Is it illegitimate for the CEC to put forward a plan that is so blatantly unequal?  From one point of view it is.  The United States Supreme Court has staked out the position that representatives represent people, not trees.  Appeals to community cohesion or geographic integrity must yield to the overriding principle of equal population sizes.  I don’t remember exactly, but US districts are only allowed to vary by 1-2% at the most.  However, the US Supreme Court’s opinion is somewhat extreme in the global spectrum.  In most countries, population size is not the only, or even the primary, consideration.  Considerable variation is allowed in the name of community solidarity and the like.

Still, 45% is a bit extreme.  Population size was never meant to be the only criterion here, but it seems as if it has been demoted to a decidedly secondary consideration.

One other interesting tidbit about these districts.  Look at the first two districts.  District 1, which runs along the northern part of the coast, is small, with only 271775 residents.  District 2, which is immediately south of District 1 and runs along the southern part of the coast and then south of Taichung City, is much larger, with 342900 residents.  The two districts meet at Wuqi and Shalu Townships.  Wuqi is in District 1, while Shalu is in District 2.  Geographically, Wuqi is to the west of Shalu.  To the north, they are both bordered by Qingshui.  To the south, they are both bordered by Longjing.  Here is the question: Why is Shalu, with a population of 80974 in District 2, while Wuqi, with only 55002 residents, in District 1?  By putting Shalu with District 2 and Wuqi with District 1, the population inequality was exacerbated, not mitigated.

Geographic ties won’t explain this decision.  Both Shalu and Wuqi have borders with the north and south, and there are plenty of transportation links.  A justification to divide them the other way would have been easy.

A more likely explanation is historical political development.  Some townships have closer historical ties than others.  This usually dates to Japanese era decisions about police jurisdictions.  In the ROC era, the police districts have been maintained and often extended to county assembly elections.  So, for example, Dajia, Waipu, and Da’an townships are a county assembly district (and probably a police district), and they are conveniently put together in District 1.  Likewise, Longjing, Dadu, and Wuri in District 2 have similar ties.  However, this doesn’t explain our puzzle.  Qingshui, Shalu, and Wuqi are a historical grouping.  This group has to be broken up somehow, but I can’t think of any reason why it is appropriate to break off Shalu and not Wuqi.

I can, however, think of a good political reason.  The KMT has an incumbent from Dajia, Liu Quanzhong 劉銓忠.  Liu has been active for about 40 years.  In the old days, he was in the Provincial Assembly, rising to Vice-Speaker, while his older brother Liu Songfan 劉松藩 held the seat in the Legislative Yuan and rose all the way to Speaker.  There was another incumbent based in Shalu, Yan Qingbiao 顏清標.  Yan is not formally a member of the KMT.  Due to his extensive organized crime network, Yan and the KMT find it useful to maintain the fiction that Yan is actually an independent.  On the other hand, the KMT has always undernominated to leave a space for Yan.  In 2008, the KMT declined to nominate a candidate to run against Yan.  So we are justified in thinking of Yan as a de-facto KMT member.  There was a third relevant KMT incumbent as well, Ji Guodong 紀國棟, who is based in Dadu Township.  Dadu is in the middle of District 2.  So the KMT had three incumbents vying for two seats.  Depending on which district Shalu, Yan’s hometown, was put into, there would potentially be a disaster for the KMT.

Further complicating these calculations, we must never forget Taichung County factional loyalties.  The Liu family is the first family of the Red Faction.  Both Yan and Ji are Black Faction members.  If Yan and Liu were put into the same district, they might not be able to negotiate for one of them to stand down.  Even if the two principals could come to some agreement, their factional networks might not stand for it.  In other words, putting Yan and Liu together was potentially courting disaster for the KMT.  On the other hand, putting Yan and Ji together was potentially less problematic.  Since both belong to the Black Faction, there is probably a significant overlap in their political networks.  These lower-level activists might push Yan and Ji to make peace in order to avoid the distasteful possibility of having to choose between them.  In the event, the KMT put Ji on the party list and left District 2 open for Yan.  In fact, three of Taichung County’s five districts went to Red Faction members (Liu Quanzhong, Yang Qiongying 楊瓊瑩) or Red-leaning politicians (Xu Zhongxiong 徐中雄), while the other two districts went to Black Faction members (Yan Qingbiao, Jiang Lianfu 江連福).  When you add in Ji Guodong from the party list, there is a nice three to three factional balance.

All of this factional harmony (remember, the strategy worked brilliantly with the KMT sweeping all five districts) came at the low, low cost of having District 2 being 26% larger than District 1 instead of only 6% larger.  Apparently, that was a price worth paying.