Thursday, November 24, 2005

Elections in the Media At Home and Abroad

The International Herald Tribune hosts an article from Reuters that argues that these local elections are a test of Chen's governance.

Opinion polls favor the opposition even in some of the DPP's traditional strongholds. In Taipei County - the island's largest constituency with a population of 3.7 million, which the DPP has controlled for 16 years - the DPP candidate Luo Wen-jia was trailing behind the Kuomintang's Chou Hsi-wei by about 15 percentage points.

"I feel as disappointed, and frustrated, with the DPP as everyone else," Koo Kwang-ming, an adviser to Chen and an influential pro-independence stalwart, said in a half-page newspaper advertisement this week.

But he said an opposition victory would be alarming and would encourage China, which has ignored Chen but feted opposition leaders when they visited Beijing earlier this year.

The local elections are not as important as the legislative elections next year. The DPP has never done well in them, so they will be less of a barometer than many think. The main loss will be Taipei County, from which the DPP pulled popular and competent C. C. Su to promote him to another post, a stupid move that will result in the loss of that area to the pro-China parties. The DPP simply does not have enough quality administrators and officials, a problem that has plagued the party since its inception. And promoting them to the government where they will be eaten up by the scandals of their useless underlings is a bad idea.

Meanwhile a number of articles in the local papers have remarked on the mudslinging and technology that has become a staple of local electioneering. The China Post notes:

Taiwan's traditionally down and dirty politics is taking a new turn ahead of next month's crucial municipal election _ high-tech blogging designed to draw large numbers of politically alienated voters to the polls.

Mudslinging and cyberspace seem a natural combination for this leaf-shaped island of 23 million people, where technological innovation competes with vitriolic politics as the national sport.

As in past Taiwanese elections, cable news stations are broadcasting partisan press conferences and campaign ads virtually round the clock, leaving none of the major parties unscathed.

But this year they have been joined by state of the art computer attacks to add spice to the already piquant broth.

The newcomer is the addition of blogs, which I suspect will become more influential as time goes by. In the US bloggers have become particularly effective as both attack weapons and as motivators and coordinators.

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