Sunday, December 24, 2006

Two In One Election Squeeze

The major parties, the KMT and the DPP, are in fact quite capable of enthusiastic cooperation, if it involves squeezing out the smaller parties. Thus:

Two smaller political parties said yesterday that they either opposed or held reservations about having presidential and legislative elections on the same day, as suggested by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Yu Shyi-kun.

The Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) and People First Party (PFP) were responding to Yu's suggestion of combining the legislative elections scheduled for the end of 2007 and the presidential election in March 2008 as a means of strengthening social harmony and saving money.

Yu said that many groups have told him that there are too many elections in Taiwan, which have caused rifts in the fabric of society. Combining presidential and legislative elections -- the two most prominent elections in the country -- would be a socially harmonious and cost-efficient move.

Liao Pen-yen (廖本煙), the TSU's legislative caucus whip, said the party adamantly opposes combining the two elections.

Liao said that as a minor party, it will be unable to field its presidential candidate, and that two-in-one elections would be favorable to large political parties in building up momentum, while further squeezing the maneuvering space of the smaller parties.

He said if the DPP is set to promote the two-in-one elections, the TSU will advocate cross-party coordination to decide whether it is feasible.

PFP Legislator and party spokesman Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) said that although the two-in-one elections will reduce social disruption, the move is definitely not favorable to the smaller parties, leading to their marginalization.

This happened in the National Assembly elections in 2005 as well. David at Jujuflop has the call:

Back in August last year, the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) and the People First Party (PFP) both supported the constitutional change that is behind these elections. One of the main reasons for their support was that they didn’t want to be seen as the parties that were ‘obstructing progress’ before the legislative elections. Now that those elections have been and gone (with disastrous results for both parties), they no longer seem to care about public opinion. For them, it is now about voting to save their jobs. If the size of the legislature is halved (as is proposed), then half of these politicians will be out of a job in 3 years time - and with the reform making it harder for the smaller parties to compete, a large number of TSU & PFP legislators fear for their own future.

Needless to say, the KMT and DPP won the elections and then cooperated to shrink the size of the legislature using the National Assembly, now defunct. The reduction in the size of the legislature is generally seen as squeezing the smaller parties. Recall that until the Chen Shui-bian Administration scandals, the DPP was the largest single party in the legislature, closely followed by the KMT. In the most recent elections in Kaohsiung and Taipei the People's First Party (PFP) took a massive hit. Both smaller parties, the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) and the PFP lack the funds to sustain local and national elections at the same time. I suspect even the DPP lacks the really robust funding base it needs to pursue local and national elections concurrently, so it relies on the national elections to drive voter turnout at the local level.

Another aspect of the suggestion from DPP Chairman Yu is that the longer the elections are away, the longer the public has to let the Chen Administration scandals fade.....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Three-In-One elections were disadvantageous to the DPP for exactly the reason that the DPP can't raise money fast enough for too many elections at the same time. The Chinese KMT on the other hand, can rely on their property. It is rumored (I just can't find a citation) that Ma told Chinese KMT Kaohsiung candidate Huang Junying that the DPP always runs into (corruption) problems when they raise money, so don't raise money and rely on the Chinese KMT party money instead. Yeah, we're not corrupt, we use interest accrued from stolen public property!