Monday, July 18, 2005

Ma's election: the fallout

The election for the KMT Chairmanship was one of the most portentious elections in Taiwan's history, evidence that the process of democratization is extending itself to even the former authoritarian party. The Taipei Times had the rundown today with several articles on the impact of this election. In KMT Chairmanship Election: Nervous DPP ponders 2008 strategy the paper notes that Ma, not known for his political skills, crushed a saavy political insider to take the election. The results?

Although Ma did not declare that he would campaign for the presidency in 2008, according to the latest poll conducted by the Chinese-language newspaper the United Daily News, about 65 percent of those surveyed said that they would support Ma in running for the presidential election in 2008, while about 90 percent of KMT members said they would vote for Ma and almost 75 percent of People First Party (PFP) members thought Ma would make a good presidential candidate.

And most worrying for the pan-greens, about 35 percent of DPP supporters also said they would support of Ma in the 2008 election, which demonstrates that Ma can attract support among voters who take a more neutral attitude toward politics.

Thirty-five percent of the DPP would vote for Ma? Scary! But DPP strategists have beaten heavily-favored KMT candidates before. It's a shame that the poll had no geographic data.

China chimed in with its usual support of the pro-China parties, calling for the KMT to work closely with Beijing. What? you mean they don't already?

Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) yesterday congratulated Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on winning election as chairman of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), and urged him to "join hands" with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

"I sincerely hope that the KMT and the [CCP], together with compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Straits [sic], will continue to promote the peaceful and steady development of cross-straits [sic] relations, and join hands to create a bright future for the Chinese nation," the government's official Xinhua news agency quoted Hu as telling Ma in a message of congratulation.

The DPP should be able to make good use of that.

E-Taiwan news also offered an analysis of the election victory:

It is fair to attribute Ma's victory to his personal image and promise for a younger and cleaner leadership and, even more weighty, the overwhelming endorsement for the Hong Kong-born politician from the hard-core mainlander community, especially the massive Huang Fu-hsing party branch for retired soldiers.

While Ma is no doubt standing at a high point in his political career and should feel confident about securing his bid as the KMT candidate for president in March 2008, the new KMT chairman faces tremendous internal and external hurdles.

1 comment:

David said...

Did you notice that Ma was pushing the fact that he has already beaten Chen Shui-bian in an election (and then beaten his successor) as a reason to vote for him? Something for the DPP to ponder ...

As for their strategy, I think i've already seen it ... I'm suddenly seeing Frank Hsieh in an awful lot of commercials (not for the DPP, but for good government causes like promoting healthcare/education). That's a ploy straight out of Ma's handbook: get your smiling face on the adverts/posters for whatever you can ... as long as you've got some link to the project (and as premier Hsieh has links to everything), you can promote yourself while promoting a cause that 99% of voters will approve of.

Of course, Hsieh hasn't got the charisma of Ma, so I don't know whether it'll work.

One final point about the polls: everyone always assumes that the electorate is strictly divided into Blue and Green supporters - which I think is bullsh*t. The politicians (and media) are very polarised, but I believe the huge majority of the population are pretty moderate - and willing to vote either way. In that light, it's not surprising that plenty of people say they might vote for Ma. Equally, there are plenty of potential DPP voters if the Greens get their act together.