Sunday, July 08, 2007

Presidential Election News Roundup

Lots happened this week. First, the Central Election Commission decided to schedule the Presidential and Legislative elections on two different dates.

The Central Election Commission (CEC) yesterday set the voting day for the 2008 presidential race at March 22, ruling out the possibility of having the legislative elections take place on the same day.

The schedule came as a disappointment for the opposition camp, which had asked that the presidential and legislative elections be held simultaneously.

The CEC last month decided that the legislative elections will be held Jan. 12.

People First Party spokesman Lee Hong-chun said it is a waste of money to hold the two races separately, as they will be only two months apart.

Lee argued that the fewer the elections, the more stable the country will be.

The Kuomintang also claimed that the CEC's decision against combining the races was made because of an objection by Frank Hsieh, the presidential candidate of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party.

It's not easy for either party to see where the advantage lies in having elections separate or together. As A-gu points out, the PFP has reversed itself on the issue, and the DPP was split.

Next, former Premier Su Tseng-chang dropped out of consideration for the post of Veep. Su had been widely considered a front-runner for the position. He's popular, clean, and widely respected.

Former premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) declared yesterday he had no intention of being Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Frank Hsieh's (謝長廷) running mate, although he would campaign for him.

"I will spare no effort to campaign [for Hsieh]. But I don't want any position," Su told reporters.

"[Former vice premier] Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭) has been trying to become the vice presidential candidate," he said. "As a woman and a Hakka, I think it would be great if she could attract more votes to help the DPP win the election."


Hsieh-Su would have made a kickass pairing, but Hsieh-Yeh will make a good one as well. The relatively younger and female Yeh will make a nice contrast to Ma's choice of the 68 year old Vincent Siew as his veep. Yeh was married to Deng Nan-jung (鄭南榕), the dissident publisher who burned himself to death in 1989.

Meanwhile, as former President Lee threw his vast weight behind the drive to get a referendum on the KMT's stolen assets, the KMT responded by considering a lawsuit on their asset losses during his days as party chairman:

The threat comes in the wake of Lee's endorsement of the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) campaign for a referendum on recovering the KMT's stolen assets.

Lee, who served as KMT chairman from 1988 to 2000, signed the DPP's signature drive in support of the proposed referendum in April.

The KMT took over numerous assets from the Japanese colonial government and seized assets from private businesses and individuals when it took control of Taiwan at the end of World War II.

KMT Culture and Communications Committee chairman Yang Tu (楊渡) said yesterday that the party's Asset Handling and Monitoring Committee had discovered 10 problematic deals from when Lee was head of the KMT and it had asked its lawyers to investigate the cases.

"There were so many asset deals during the 12 years Lee was chairman. We have to clarify the responsibility," Yang said at KMT headquarters.

"Each deal has its problems, and so we will have lawyers look into the cases and may seek a solution through litigation or negotiations," he said, although he refused to say if the party would sue Lee.

The KMT's party asset report released last August blamed Lee for NT$42.7 billion (US$1.309 billion) in losses through bad investments.

According to legend, the KMT also took another bath when it shoved the stock market down after the first Chen Shui-bian victory in 2000 to make it look as though the market did not approve of Chen, and American institutional investors rushed in to purchase shares offered at bargain prices. Lots of bad decisions have informed KMT actions over the last decade.

6 comments:

Wulingren said...

Michael,

I just have one question regarding Hsieh-Yeh v. Hsieh-Su, now that Su has bowed out (or simply wasn't chosen). How many do you think would have voted for Hsieh-Su that wouldn't vote for Hsieh-Yeh? And does that outnumber the number of potential Hakka voters that would be attracted to the Hsieh-Yeh combination? That's probably not the best way to put it, but it seems like that is the issue Hsieh had to weigh. I guess the fact that Hsieh and Yeh are already close is important. It means they can work together.

So, more simply put: What would Hsieh have gained if he picked Su that he doesn't gain by picking Yeh?

The answer that I generally hear is that it would have mended divisions within the DPP. But are Su supporters really going to support Ma over Hsieh? Are they going to stay home election day because Hsieh didn't pick their guy?

This is all assuming that Hsieh actually picks Yeh, who I believe was always his choice for running mate.

vin said...

I think the CEC’s decision is definitely to the DPP’s benefit. The KMT is the virtually certain winner, and perhaps will be a very big winner, in the legislative elections. The CEC’s decision will therefore afford the DPP more than two months to pummel Ma’s presidential campaign against the background of a constant refrain: “Do you voters really want undivided government? Do you want nothing standing in the way of selling out to China?” I think the DPP feels it absolutely needs a chance to throw this sell-out prospect into post-legislative-elections stark relief for Hsieh to have a good chance of beating Ma.

Further, legislative elections have long had more the character of local, not national, elections, which points to a second matter. Bundling the national presidential election with the “local” legislative elections would create a huge mafan factor for (the many?) voters inclined to vote blue locally and green nationally. With legislative elections held separately, such voters can satisfy their instincts by casting blue one-district/one-seat votes and green party preference votes. If in a bundled election these balancers had to factor in not just a presidential choice, but also choices on color-coded national-level referendum(s), their instincts toward balancing would be wholly frustrated by the murkiness of too many factors/choices; possible outcomes would be so multiple that no balancing voter could possibly figure out how to aim his votes in any practical way toward what he most wants: an overall balanced outcome. While it’s not at all clear what would happen on such a terra incognita electoral playing field, if I were a DPP strategist, I would not like having to figure out tactics when the other side has a local-level machine and I don’t. I would fear the spectre of some those balancers saying “To hell with all this mafan; I’m voting blue across the board, and if the consequences are bad, I’ll vote green across the board next time.”

So I think the DPP in general and Hsieh in particular are naturally quite happy with the CEC’s decision to hold separate elections.

Anonymous said...

Su will be a waste as the Veep. Plus Hsieh and Su have contrasting governing styles. They might not be a good fit for that and other reasons. Yeh, on the other hand, will be a very good choice for the post for her background and upbring.

NYkrinDC said...

Michael,

Thanks for commenting. I've responded to your comments on my site.

Clancy said...

Does this mean Su is a lock for premier?

Question: is the legislative election the first one under the new rule (one legislator per district)? I think because of the new electroals, the outcome of this election may be highly unpredictable...

Michael Turton said...

I agree with you, Wulingren. I think we're better off developing more talent and bringing up new people. The Veep is a symbolic choice and a good training position.

Unfortunately, Clancy, the legislative outcome is very predictable, due to gerrymandering. The KMT has an 11 seat advantage, according to analyses published earlier this year in the Taipei Times. This will be impossible for the DPP to overcome, I think.

Michael