Sunday, January 13, 2008

Some preliminary numbers

Let's start with the polls. Several people have written to say "Looks like those biased polls were right." ESWN has a post on it up on his widely read blog, so let's take a look at his data. ESWN observed:

But what were the public opinion polls saying? The following table is compiled from the list of polls conducted by TVBS one to three months before the elections. The entries show the percentages for the KMT candidate versus the DPP candidate; the green entries are those in which the DPP candidate is ahead. Before the actual election results in, poll results such as these are contemptuously dismissed as "pan-blue" polls.

District TVBS Poll Actual Result
Taipei City 1 57% vs. 26% 60% vs. 39%
Taipei City 2 51% vs. 27% 52% vs. 46%
Taipei City 3 51% vs. 25% 60% vs. 38%
Taipei City 4 50% vs. 27% 62% vs. 35%
Taipei City 5 44% vs. 26% 58% vs. 41%
Taipei City 6 59% vs. 24% 67% vs. 32%
Taipei City 7 60% vs. 19% 66% vs. 32%
Taipei City 8 55% vs. 19% 72% vs. 26%
Taipei County 1 49% vs. 21% 58% vs. 40%
Taipei County 2 31% vs. 24% 40% vs. 43%
Taipei County 3 47% vs. 29% 48% vs. 50%
Taipei County 4 46% vs. 30% 52% vs. 47%
Taipei County 5 45% vs. 33% 52% vs. 47%
Taipei County 6 51% vs. 28% 57% vs. 43%
Taipei County 7 51% vs. 24% 56% vs. 42%
Taipei County 8 47% vs. 31% 60% vs. 40%
Taipei County 10 52% vs. 23% 60% vs. 39%
Taipei County 12 45% vs. 17% 52% vs. 38%
Chiayi County 1 35% vs. 34% 58% vs. 42%
Chiayi County 2 26% vs. 41% 42% vs. 57%
Kaohsiung City 1 53% vs. 25% 58% vs. 41%
Kaohsiung City 2 43% vs. 33% 49% vs. 51%
Kaohsiung City 3 44% vs. 28% 49% vs. 43%
Kaohsiung City 4 43% vs. 29% 51% vs. 47%
Kaohsiung City 5 32% vs. 40% 46% vs. 52%
Tainan City 1 47% vs. 30% 50% vs. 50%
Tainan City 2 40% vs. 38% 48% vs. 50%
Tainan County 1 31% vs. 36% 45% vs. 55%
Tainan County 2 25% vs. 42% 41% vs. 59%
Tainan County 3 32% vs. 37% 47% vs. 53%

The problem with the pro-Blue polls like TVBS (100% owned by Hong Kong Chinese) is not that they are right or wrong in hindsight, it is that they cannot be trusted beforehand because they are pro-Blue and consistently underestimate Green votes. You only have to scan the list and look at the Green column for TVBS poll results and actual results. In almost every case, the poll underestimates the Green vote by 25-50%, sometimes even more. In Taipei county districts 4-12, for example, TVBS had:

Green vote:
District 4 projected: 30 actual: 47 disparity: 56%
District 5 projected: 33 actual: 47 disparity: 42%
District 6 projected: 28 actual: 43 disparity: 53%
District 7 projected: 24 actual: 42 disparity: 75%
etc.

The phenomenon of pro-Blue polls underestimating Green votes is well known here, and as you can see, TVBS sometimes errs by 50% in its estimates. Such polls are useless, except as propaganda tools -- which is why they exist, and why they can't be trusted.

Was it possible to predict this debacle? Yes, but not from looking at polling data in the Blue papers, which was worthless. Indeed, numerous ominous rumblings reached my ears last week, but I discounted them for the same reason that I discount polls from the Dark Side: the Green voters conceal their plans, as ESWN's data so eloquently shows. Perhaps the KMT and DPP internal polls showed something, but they weren't releasing their data. Nevertheless, there were people out there who foresaw disaster, though as far as I know, nobody picked the KMT to get over 80 seats.

Let's now look at the numbers from the last several legislative elections. I gathered them up last year for a post on US State Department official Tom Christensen's erroneous belief that the US kept the DPP from doing as well as expected in the Legislative elections in '04. Here are the figures:
2001
Blue Parties, total votes
KMT 2,949,371
PFP 1,917,836
New 269,620

Total Blue vote: 5,136,827

2001
Green parties total votes
DPP 3,447,740
TSU 801,560

Total Green Vote: 4,249,030
Total turnout (66%)

++++++++++++

2004
Blue Parties total votes
KMT 3,190,081
PFP 1,350,613
New 12,137

Total Blue Vote: 4,552,831

2004 Green parties total votes
DPP 3,471,429
TSU 756,712

Total Green votes: 4,228,141
(Total turnout 59%)

2001 Blue vote: 5,136,827
2004 Blue vote: 4,552,831

2001 Green vote: 4,249,030
2004 Green vote: 4,228,141

2001-2004 difference
Blue: - 583,996
Green: - 20,889

In other words, in '04 the DPP did well because Blue voters stayed home. The '08 totals are up on the CEC website:

Major parties, 2007 LY election, total votes (election held 1-12-08)

2008
KMT 5,010,801
DPP 3,610,106

Let's see that another way:

2001 Blue vote: 5,136,827
2004 Blue vote: 4,552,831
2008 Blue vote 5,010,801 (+ 0.38 million New Party) ~5.4 million

In other words, the Blues manage to raise their votes back to their 1998 levels of 5.3 million -- the most Blue votes in an LY election in a decade. Meanwhile, what about the DPP and the Greens?

2001 Green vote: 4,249,030
2004 Green vote: 4,228,141
2008 Green vote 3,610,106 (+.35 million TSU) ~4.0 million

There's going to be lots of temptation to criticize the DPP. What were the DPP's vote totals?

2001 DPP 3,447,740
2004 DPP 3,471,429
2008 DPP 3,610,106

Yes, you're not going blind. The DPP actually raised its vote total by 140,000 votes over 2004, despite the barrage of negative campaigning. Where did the Greens lose out? TSU votes plummeted, from 756,000 votes in 2004 to just 344,000 in 2008.

The short answer to today's election loss is really quite simple -- the KMT was effective in getting out absolutely everyone who would vote for it. The long answer is one I'll have up in a couple of days, when I digest what's being written and said about this disaster for Taiwan and its future.

UPDATE: the number I am using is the number for party ballots. Voters cast two ballots in this election, one for the candidate and one for the party. The party ballot figure is lower, so I figured it is more conservative. I haven't seen constituent numbers yet.

58 comments:

David said...

I appreciate your analysis. It is a disaster for the DPP in terms of the number of legislators elected, although not in the total number of votes. Given so many KMT legislators now have the advantages of incumbency, 40 seats might be the best the DPP can hope for in 2012. The other key point is that the DPP has not been able to lift its vote since 2000.

Michael Turton said...

Yes, for some reason Blue votes fluctuate wildly, but DPP votes remain right around 3.5 million for LY elections and don't budge, for the last three elections.

Clear away the cobwebs of conventional wisdom, and what do we have? One party mobilized everyone who would vote for it, the other can't seem to get its people out to vote. Why? The DPP and KMT both racked up 6.4 million voters in the '04 presidential election. It's like the DPP voters remain torpid until the national elections, then they all get out there.

Michael

Huw said...

It's not as simple a matter as the KMT and DPP getting their respective bases to vote. A lot of people who otherwise may have voted for the DPP voted against them this time because they are sick and tired of the ongoing corruption, pettiness, and incompetence displayed by the DPP over the last few years.

This result is a disaster for the DPP, not for the people of Taiwan. We voted not so much for the KMT, but against the DPP. Perhaps this loss will force them to get their act together, and concentrate on the things that regular people really consider important.

John said...

As far as I know, there are no provisons made for any sort of "absentee voting" in Taiwan, such as exist in many countries.

I wonder how big a factor that may be in the outcome of the elections.

I'm from USA, and I am able to send a ballot to my home district from wherever I may be living at the time.

I any big city in Taiwan, you will meet a very large number of people (especially 20s and 30s) who are from smaller towns but who live more-or-less permanently in the big city, but who (for whatever reason) choose not to change their official residence as listed with the government.

I live in Taipei and my friends who also live here --but are from southern Taiwan-- say it would take them a whole day to go home to vote. Maybe if they feel they can make the trip only once, they will choose to do it for the presidential election.

I read the papers everyday, and I don't recall ever seeing or hearing about any proposals to make absentee voting possible.

I an guessing that the KMT would have somewhat more to lose than the DPP if it were possible.

--scott

Michael Turton said...

I hope some good comes of this loss, Huw.

Michael

Michael Turton said...

The absentee voting thing is an interesting problem. I suspect abuses would be widespread if it were permitted, which is why it isn't. ANother quirk of it is that people can keep their voter registrations where they think their vote might do some good -- my wife used to keep hers in a Taipei 'burb for just that reason.

Michael

Thomas said...

"This result is a disaster for the DPP, not for the people of Taiwan. We voted not so much for the KMT, but against the DPP. "

Sorry, I disagree. I would say that it would not have been a disaster for the people of Taiwan had the Blue parties not managed winning 2/3 of the legislature. Now, in all likelihood, there will be a KMT president and the KMT will completely control the legislature. They have had a taste of loss now. Do you really think they are not going to try to alter the system to ensure continued victories in the future? Taiwan is now looking at several years of silenced dissent and excessive privilege being reserved for one party. I hate to say it, but there are, from time to time, elections in places worldwide that paradoxically reduce a country's democratic standing.

Look, HUW, I agree that the DPP has, to a great extent, itself to blame for its losses. However, I think that a lot of people in Taiwan really did not think this through, and just bothered to listen to KMT propaganda.

Hai Tien said...

Speaking as a green voter who comes from a blue family, I'd say that to a certain extent, the DPPs stagnant support seems to derive in part from a perception (fair or not) that they are incapable of governance other than making symbolic gestures on renaming various items. Yes the KMT plays dirty, yes the media is horribly biased, but that's just something we have to deal with.

To a certain extent, I'd also throw in various bullheaded moves of the DPP itself that seem to stem from overconfidence in its own strength (or at least of the deep green faction of the party). For example, the much ballyhooed 排藍條款 (anti-blue articles) adopted by the DPP, resulted in the exclusion of many light green voters. Throw in a deep green fringe that spends its time mostly preoccupied with symbolic gestures (try reading some of the deep green posts on www.anti-media.tw) as detached from the current situation as any frothing 1949 KMT-er, and you have a sure way of alienating any centrist voters.

National identity doesn't matter, we've practically won that battle. Even the KMT has to pay lip service to the whole idea of ROC = Taiwan (sincere or not). We can't keep relying on that single issue forever.

What we need is a uniter, much in the way CSB was when he was mayor of Taipei. The KMT was never that way, and the DPP seems to have forgotten about it since 2000. You can't expect the legacy of 50 years of martial law to disappear overnight, or simply by renaming a couple of landmarks. People aren't going to care about things like transitional justice, a new flag, or name rectification if they think that the economy is in the shitter (statistics be dammed). And you sure as hell don't do yourself any favors by alienating big chunks of the electorate. Granted, many of these segments might be dismissed as being mostly blue to begin with, but that's a problem we have to work with. In our situation, we don't have the luxury of alienating big chunks of the populace in the name of the transgressions of yesterday. The electorate cares primarily about their perceptions of the here and now.

Lincoln couldn't issue the Emancipation Proclamation without a major military victory, and those of us who support the idea of democratization can't sell our ideas to the general public without showing some major concrete achievements that they can see, even through the smokescreen of the KMT controlled media.

Raj said...

In other words, in '04 the DPP did well because Blue voters stayed home.

In that case, Michael, surely the DPP has a terrible problem because at the core of it the KMT has more supporters. At best it shows the DPP needs to appeal to more of the undecided/light groupings - blithering on about China et al won't work.

All I can say is that sometimes parties need to adapt from this sort of scenario, learn from their mistakes and better themseles. I hope that if somehow Hsieh wins the DPP will still conduct a root-and-branch review, re-organise itself, start campaigning on issues people really care about every day of the week, etc.

N.J said...

the party votes doesn't contribute to DPP defeat. the district seats thrashing led to it's downfall ( 13 DPP, 60 KMT ) analyzing the district defeat could be tricky and harder to rectify for the DPP. the "single member district seats elections" is a cruel game - only the seats matter, not the votes - KMT won 6-3 in Kaohsiung area with 44.2% to DPP 44% votes. KMT lost 0-5 in Tainan with 45% to DPP 55%. and DPP lost almost completely in the north despite getting 40%+ of the total votes

Anonymous said...

Micheal, great job!! Fluctuations in DPP support was the first thing I wondered about.

It appears that the KMT can count on some 3 million votes and if the DPP can't get more voters than that out to the polls, then they will loose.

Scott Sommers.

Michael Turton said...

In that case, Michael, surely the DPP has a terrible problem because at the core of it the KMT has more supporters. At best it shows the DPP needs to appeal to more of the undecided/light groupings - blithering on about China et al won't work.

Yup. What it shows is that in the LY elections more KMT supporters are willing to come out. Taking the 6.4 million that each party got in 2004 presidential election as the top (80% turnout), the KMT managed to get about 85% of its potential vote out. Fantastic work. Meanwhile the DPP just can't get past the 3.5 million mark, three straight elections now. Nor did all those TSU votes switch, they appear to have either stayed home or gone back to the KMT from whence they came.

Great comments, Hai tien and thomas.

More numbers on wednesday, I think. My daughter is in the hospital at the moment, and I have finals at all my schools.

Michael

christieroad said...

And here comes the underside of the pride cycle, as seen in just about every civilization on the planet: Those in power abuse it, and those seeking the power have to wait by the side and earn back that which they lost. The greens messed things up all by themselves, and now they've got their asses kicked. Now let's see if the blues go back in to their KMT-of-old ways. Probably will, with all of the seats they hold.

For the short term, I think the election will be a blessing for this island. It will be a humbling experience for A-Bian, who will undoubtedly end up in the US after he leaves office.

Anonymous said...

Actually, we can see in this election the KMT has finally conceded to the democratic process as their only means of survival. If, they give Taiwan to China, the CCP will abolish all political parties in Taiwan as well as the 'legislature'. We must remember the KMT doesn't trust the CCP with good reason.

STOP Ma said...

.
.
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This result is a disaster for the DPP, not for the people of Taiwan.

It is a disaster for the progress of Taiwan's democracy and it's status as and independent nation. But of course, the disregard for these goals (for local, short-term benefits) was also noticeable in the 2004 legislative elections. That, for me, was the real turning point. Chen needed strong support to bring effective change, afterall. But, all he got was obstructionism from the very beginning. Indeed, if the circus of the so-called "bullet-gate" wasn't enough for the average Taiwanese citizen to wake up and understand that the KMT are only looking out for their own self-interests, I guess nothing will.

But hey, their strategy worked, didn't it? Congratulations!

The question really is...

Will this force the KMT to get THEIR act together?

With 3/4 of the legislature -- and what we've seen in the past 4 years -- I think the answer is distinctly...

no.

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.
.

"

Raj said...

Meanwhile the DPP just can't get past the 3.5 million mark, three straight elections now.

Then something needs to change, else the KMT really will become the LDP (Japan) of Taiwan. Best to drop the anti-China/KMT rhetoric and focus on the plan to engage with Beijing (doesn't matter if China won't talk - you deal with that later).

Sorry to hear about your daughter - hope she's out soon.

Raj said...

david

Given so many KMT legislators now have the advantages of incumbency, 40 seats might be the best the DPP can hope for in 2012.

Anything is possible - it depends on how the DPP reforms itself over the next four years. If the KMT win the presidency but don't deliver, they'll have a lot of questions to answer as they would have had control over both the legislative and executive. That's something to capitalise on.

However, it could be the case that the DPP won't be in a position to fight for a majority until 2016. That's because parties often prefer to stick their heads in the sand and try more of the same before they get beaten again. But incumbancy is a two-edged sword - they become easy targets if things don't go right and the public look for new faces. Then the party in question has to put someone else up or allow the competing parties to claim they've got the fresh ideas.

Raj said...

thomas

I think that your reaction is part of the reason the DPP lost. They seemed to campaign on a "you really can't vote KMT - they're awful" platform, which you appear to share. Sorry, but that's not good enough. The electorate reserve the right to forgive and hand out good faith that the people they vote for will do a good job.

hai tien makes some great points. As I said on my entry on the Peking Duck, the DPP needs to start talking about bread-and-butter issues 24/7. Complaining about corruption in the KMT won't help a jot if people think the DPP are corrupt too. Drop the blithering about China, Taiwanese independence, etc. Taiwan is independent already - changing its name won't help it join the UN or get big countries to recognise it.

Sean Su said...

Raj,

The DPP can't drop the Independence issue, the name changing issue, or other "symbolics" without losing its deep green voters.

Sean Su said...

Go Michael Turton, its nice to see you tell them how it is. Vote buying in Taiwan has gone on long enough.

http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSTP28087320080110

CCTang said...

Michael,

Hate to get in the way of your self-delusion... but in terms of the poll results, you might notice the polls also significantly "under-estimated" pan-Blue votes.

Why? Because the media polls gave us percentages as a total of all those polled, while the actual ballot results are given as a percentage of all those who actually *voted*.

Zyzyx said...

I am disappointed that the New Party did not gain any seats, despite getting 4% of the vote. The system gave the KMT a huge win, which is nice. But I believe it would have been fairer if the number of seats would be distributed according to the percentage of votes gathered. So 4% of 113 is still 4-5 seats. The district system gives Taiwan a US system, while European systems are nicer IMHO.

Anonymous said...

Curiousity kills the cat. What's wrong with KMT taking over the Govt? DPP had their chance and they lost it. Let's post some positive comments on what KMT can or will do in the next 5 years.
Thks.

Michael Turton said...

Hate to get in the way of your self-delusion... but in terms of the poll results, you might notice the polls also significantly "under-estimated" pan-Blue votes.

Why? Because the media polls gave us percentages as a total of all those polled, while the actual ballot results are given as a percentage of all those who actually *voted*.


Duh. But cc, the underestimation of the Green votes is much greater than the underestimation of the Blu votes. That's a typical pattern. You could focus on the Blue votes as well and write the same paragraph I did.

No matter how you slice it, the Blue polls are worthless.

Michael

Anonymous said...

The Blues polls are far from worthless. They predicted a KMT win, they predicted a motivated Blue electorate and they were right. Maybe it was the DP polls that were worthless? Even the conservative DPP polls didn't predict the kind of thrasing that earns less than 30 seats out of 113 up for grabs.

Thomas said...

They seemed to campaign on a "you really can't vote KMT - they're awful" platform, which you appear to share. Sorry, but that's not good enough.

Well, I think it is good enough. I base my opinions on repeated observations of cases where the KMT has 1) Blatantly lied about Taiwan's political or economic situation to gain points 2) Obstructed legislation just for the sake of being difficult. This is not a knee-jerk reaction. The lacklustre performance of the DPP in the last four years, and their reliance on pushing through small name changes and other matters of little consequence has a lot to do with the refusal of the opposition to compromise on matters of greater significance.

I cannot have confidence that a minority party that behaves so irresponsibly will behave more responsibly once it finds itself in the majority.

Zyzyx said...

Michael Turton, I predict Ma will win the next elections also by a landslide. He will be invited to the mainland, and will tour it. He will sit next to Hu Jintao during the Olympics, with Bush next to the other side of Hu. After the elections, Ma will sign a peace agreement which will set the path toward reunification! How about that? I also predict Chen Shui-bian will become a fugitive and will move to the US with his family. Taiwan independence will die and will be supported by a small minority in a few counties, but they will be neutralized by a majority vote. That's democracy.

Luzai said...

Interesting comments here.

I'm from Mainland. I do NOT understand why some people here call KMT's big win a disaster for Taiwan people or democratic progress of Taiwan.

Taiwan IS democratic. This victory of KMT is the result of Taiwan democracy progression and reflects majority Taiwanese's will.

To me, this election result is GOOD for peoples in both Taiwan and Mainland. At least, now we will have reduce tension cross Taiwan Strait (people were seriously talking about wars in 2008 which now seems unlikely). Furthermore, if Ma Yin Jeou is elected in March, there is no more fight btw legislature and president, which improves government efficiency. (And today’s KMT knows if they can delivery what they promised, Taiwanese people can kick them out in a couple of elections). Third, more significantly, DDP have now learned an importantly lesson that economy instead of ideology is the thing really matters to MAJORITY of ordinary people (this is the lesson take CCP 30 years to learn).

Anonymous said...

Election polls are pretty much all worthless, blue or green. And polls likely have no effect on actual election results...just take the LY elections in Taiwan or the NH Democratic primaries in the USA as examples. You can't predict the unpredictable.

Alice said...

Who would think that KMT as an enemy party of China in 1949 will have found common cause in their ground after this election. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not pro-blue, neither pro-green, but I do understand that Chen’s talk about independent does get everyone’s nerve in high alert. I do trust Mr. Ma, and I hope he will use his wisdom in a peace way of negotiation with China but not comprised of Taiwan's interests.

If there is 2/3 approval in KMT in this election, doest that mean in March we will see Mr. Ma be our president? Well, we don’t know, how Taiwanese is playing the card. I can see is that north vs south will be another picture in the Election Day.

What I don’t want to see is that an easy task will be present for the KMT, if that Mr. Ma is going to be our president in next term, and there will be to pushy in any reforms due to the same party in presidency and legislative Yun.

Anonymous said...

good to hear some Taiwanese and mainland voices in this dialog..most of the early commenter's are foreigners. Maybe democracy really is at work in Taiwan after all. There is even a tone of humility in today's KMT. The dust will settle in a day or 2 and a clearer picture will emerge.

Raj said...

Sean Su

The DPP can't drop the Independence issue, the name changing issue, or other "symbolics" without losing its deep green voters.

Then it will never get a majority in the legislative, will eventually see the country adopt a Parliamentary system and forever be in Opposition.

You can't let a minority of the electorate, even if they are a significant proportion of your votes, control party policy. You must look to obtaining a majority. No one is saying the DPP must openly support unification, but there is no need to jump up and down all the time about independence, name change and China. That is a truth. Deep greens need to realise that they can't bully other Taiwanese into voting for them just because the KMT aren't great. What do they want more - a tup-thumping campaign that loses or a more modest bread-and-butter campaign that has a chance? Because it's one or the other - they can't have their cake and eat it.

thomas

Well, I think it is good enough.

But you are not a majority of the electorate. Negative campaigning rarely works if there is no positive alternative. The DPP sought to attack the KMT on issues that no longer really concern most people such that they will change the vote. They should have attacked them on their legislative performance because this was a legislative election! They should have also said what they would have done for ORDINARY TAIWANESE if they got a majority.

Taking charge of KMT assets does not directly help people, even if the money might trickle down eventually. What most people would have seen was the DPP wanting to damage the long-term prospects of the KMT, irrespective of the merits of getting the money for the State.

That doesn't win an election, even if it appeals to some people.

Richard said...

I've come to realize that Taiwan in general still has a lot to learn about democracy and that money isn't everything. When you can buy votes, and put economy (money) before autonomy and the possibility of uniting with China, there's something wrong. If all the Taiwanese citizens care about is making money, then we will end up like Hong Kong, which after 10 or so years being under China, now is fighting for the right to vote- that same right that Taiwan currently has.

As the origins of the KMT party is originally from mainland China, I would not be surprised if, again the issue with money first, KMT officials are swayed by China via money to plan for an eventual unification with China. I just hope Ma keeps his parties pledge to not abuse power, which seems opposite of what they'd do if they had control of both exec and leg.

The thing I don't understand is that in articles, Hsieh and Ma's economic policies are not that much different, only that Ma wants a totally free pass between Taiwan and China, while Hsieh is more gradual. But on the other hand, in the issue of Taiwan sovereignty, Ma and the KMT party is seemingly taking Taiwan on a dangerous slippery slope, into the hands of China, while Hsieh is definitely not for unification. Either elect should bring greater economic growth, but one seems like it will be at the cost of Taiwan sovereignty.

Taiwan Nushu said...

The new election system favors the biggest party. When the change was made, there were divisions between KMT and James Song's PFP. And divisions between Ma and Wang Jin Ping. The outcome was therefore wide open and a repeat of the 2000 election possible: a DPP win thanks to blue divisions.

But the large majority Ma received in his election to party chairman and his popularity among blue voters have, I think, helped him to overcome divisions in his camp. Chen's (low) performance probably also helped the blue camp to rally around a candidate who defeated Chen in the past. That was for Taipei mayor. It's almost hard to believe that Taipei citizens had elected Chen as their mayor once. But this shows that Taiwan voters can not be taken for granted, by either party, even though total figures agregated by Michael (excellent job!) seem to indicate stability. Taiwanese seem to enjoy democracy and change quite a lot!

STOP Ma said...

.
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good to hear some Taiwanese and mainland voices in this dialog..most of the early commenter's are foreigners.

I want to reply to this comment because I feel it misses a lot of context.

While it truly IS fantastic to hear Taiwanese voices at this blog, as for this foreigner -- I have family and friends in Taiwan who I care dearly about and who are as concerned and upset over this defeat as I am. In fact, more so. (My wife is Taiwanese)
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wils said...

With the KMT victory, it is expected that dialogue across the Straight will begin. The CCP will demand that the KMT cease arms purchase from the US while its own missile build-up against Taiwan will continue. The KMT, given its track record, will sacrifice Taiwan's security and liberty for short-term economic gains. With the forseeable weakening Taiwan-US military ties, Japan (and the US) will soon appreciate the urgency of the situation and perhaps adopt more Taiwan-friendly policies as a result.

Anonymous said...

I don't know where the hell people get this efficiency argument from.

Taiwan's government under authoritarian rule used to be hugely corrupt (in the billions of dollars) and if you look at Venezuela or other places where one party rules, it is hugely corrupt. How is that efficient?

I would say a diverse representation is efficient at getting different voices heard and giving you warnings before things get out of hand. A apluralistic representation on the other hand doesn't know about a lot of issues that the electorate cares about and so a lot of things that really need to get done don't get done.

Anonymous said...

I'm the same anonymous as the last comment. Think about this--from an efficiency point of view, competition is always better. An environmental group seeing an issue with the water quality in Taiwan can force both sides to compete for its votes, making both sides eager (if the issue gets enough attention) to show that they can propose better legislation to solve the problem.

Monopolies are the same way--sure, maybe in some utopia where corporations are run by angels, they possibly could be more efficient than free market competition. Just think of all the advertising dollars everyone would save when there's only one game in town! But, we all know people always abuse power when they become singly dominant. Besides, competition creates pressure for creativity that is completely absent when you have a monopoly.

The exact same lessons for competitive markets applies to politics as well. It totally sucks that one group controls 3/4 of the legislature! This result is in itself undemocratic.

Anyone who doesn't like free markets can look at the progress in telecommunications over just the last 10-15 years (long distance is really cheap now, cell phones, 3G, etc.) and PCs (IBM losing its grip resulting in all sorts of crazy devices you see today from "supercomputer" PCs to web servers, Palms, iPhones, GPS devices, etc).

Arty said...

Taiwan's government under authoritarian rule used to be hugely corrupt (in the billions of dollars)

Sure, would you mind show me some data on this (by the way, please don't say some book written by someone who doesn't even have a Ph.D. degree or a book just pretty much his/her opinions)? 蔣經國 is very clean as for corruption (btw, I do know he probably killed a lot of people). Of course, Michael and most pro-green will disagree. However, I can tell you that his wife did not "borrow" a jade bracelet from one of my family friends (Her families are actually involved in the SOGO gift certificate scandal). My mom still joke with them about the bracelet by asking them if they get it back when we see them at social functions. And you don't have to believe me, 蔣經國's families at best are upper-middle class in the US, and even in Taiwan. I know a lot of people from Taiwan are richer than they are whose businesses have nothing to do with politics.

By the way the KMT assets in theory belongs to China because a lot them were generated from the "gold" KMT brought to Taiwan.

The exact same lessons for competitive markets applies to politics as well. It totally sucks that one group controls 3/4 of the legislature! This result is in itself undemocratic.

Do you even hear yourself talk? If a democratic election produce a over-whelming majority, it is exactly what the people wants (unless you only believe that a democracy can only produce weak semi-majority or bare-majority governments). That's democracy in a nutshell. It is only undemocratic when the majority refuses to leave power against the voters wishes. KMT has switch power peacefully to the DPP. Let's see DPP will do the same after the presidential election.

Hai Tien said...

anonymous said...
I don't know where the hell people get this efficiency argument from.

Taiwan's government under authoritarian rule used to be hugely corrupt (in the billions of dollars) and if you look at Venezuela or other places where one party rules, it is hugely corrupt. How is that efficient?


Its not so much actual efficiency as it is the perception of efficiency. One of the features of living in a more transparent society is that things such as corruption and graft are much more difficult to hide. Many existing problems once hidden during the martial law days have been allowed to float to the surface. Unfortunately this does open an avenue for capitalizing on nostalgia for a past where everything seemed cleaner and simpler. This is not just a Taiwanese thing, you'll find people all over the world with selective visions of the past longing for "the good old days" where minorities knew their place / everyone followed the Great Leader / God created the universe with the Earth at its center and everything was so much simpler.

Thomas said...

In regards to the previous comment by "Anonymous", this is exactly what I was saying by calling it a disaster for Taiwan's democratic development. With so much power, the KMT will see little reason to keep reforming itself.

I have heard many people praise the KMT for improving itself from the authoritarian days. However, they seem to forget the fact that, while the KMT is not quite as nefarious as they were in the past (although they have a long way to go), their evolution has been largely due to fear of losing or never regaining power from the DPP or other parties. Does anyone really believe that, given a situation where they have an absolute majority, that they will truly honor their pledge not to "abuse power"?

A related point: What was the most undemocratic period of Bush's presidency? When he had the full backing of two houses of Congress.

As for handing the country back to China, I have only one hope: That the CCP amounts to just a tool for the KMT to use to attack the opposition rather than an actual, desired choice of future bedfellows. I kind of suspect there will still be pressure to maintain the military and not get too aweful close to China from within the KMT now that they are in charge.

Anonymous said...

"Anyone who doesn't like free markets can look at the progress in telecommunications over just the last 10-15 years (long distance is really cheap now, cell phones, 3G, etc.) and PCs (IBM losing its grip resulting in all sorts of crazy devices you see today from "supercomputer" PCs to web servers, Palms, iPhones, GPS devices, etc)."

Beg to differ.....

Universal health care exists in Taiwan but not in the U.S. Those who oppose it in the U.S. use the 'free market" argument. I battled cancer in Taiwan. I would be dead now if I had been here in the U.S. at that time.

There are areas of public concern where gov't plays an important role. Depending upon locale various industries should be under gov't control.

We still don't have DSL coverage in my neighborhood. I live in a beautiful redwood forest in northern California and am forced to use dialup to write this comment thanks to free market policy in communications.

yet another anonymous

cctang said...

anonymous,

Look around a little more, and you'll find more than a few democracies with plenty of competition that are far less than "efficient". Georgia, India, and Mexico come to mind.

alice,

I don't know why you'd be surprised the KMT and the Communist Party are able to come to terms. The two also joined hands (kind of) after China was invaded by Japan, even with Mao and Chiang at the helm of their respective parties.

I see no reason to be surprised that the Chinese Nationalist Party and the Communist Party of China are again able to find something in common, at least in the context of the political attacks that Chen Shui-bian launched.

Chen Shui-bian may very well be remembered as the man (with supporting-actor credits to Lee Tung-hui) responsible for forcing the reds and the blues together.

cctang said...

stop_ma,

I don't see why we should care if your friends or family are "very upset" that the Greens lost this election.

It's the result a significant majority of Taiwanese wanted.

Huw said...

"I hope some good comes of this loss, Huw."

Me too, Michael. No matter what I think of the present-day DPP, Taiwan needs them. I only hope they take the reasons for this loss to heart, and make some concrete changes in their tactics, instead of blaming it on the KMT, China, the Chiangs, and all the other usual targets. That, I fear, would only alienate them further from the people.

Cheers,
Huw

Dad said...

One comment here stood out for me.

Alice said
I do trust Mr. Ma, and I hope he will use his wisdom in a peace way of negotiation with China but not comprised of Taiwan's interests.


After all the outright deceit that has come from the KMT over the past years why would anyone trust Ma?

The KMT's record in the Legislature had been nothing short of diabolical for years but it was especially bad when Ma became chairman.

Under his leadership the KMT began ignoring the constitution at will in ways that were obviously intended to benefit the KMT. They abused the power given them by a slight majority in the Legislature to create an unconstitutional NCC, blocked budgets for all types of items meant to improve the livelihood of the people of Taiwan among other niceties. Then, at the first opportunity, the electorate rewarded them with an even larger majority!

And, better than that, people all over Taiwan still trust Ma more than any other politician in the country.

I believe that the DPP and the minor parties have done an extremely poor job of telling the electorate what has happened.

By the way, this is an excellent blog Michael. I hope your daughter is recovering quickly and will be well soon.

Zyzyx said...

Arty said: "By the way the KMT assets in theory belongs to China because a lot them were generated from the "gold" KMT brought to Taiwan."

This should be highlighted. When the KMT left the mainland, it left it piss poor behind by taking with them the treasury.

Michael Turton said...

"KMT assets generated by gold from China"

Bwahahahahahahah!

Look, Arty, I suggest you start with one of the major works on Taiwan's economic history, like Ho's Economic Development of Taiwan, or Lee Teng-hui's work on intersectoral pricing. The KMT's assets were generated by the price differential between the Taiwanese agricultural sector and the industrial concerns owned by the KMT and its allies. As LTH showed in his award-winning PHD thesis, this price differential was much greater in the KMT era than the Japanese era. Gold had absolutely nothing to do with it; that's peasant economic thinking. In fact the real source was agricultural funds from the US aid program -- including funds directly deposited into the treasury to stabilize the currency (not gold!) and funds that were placed into agricultural and extracted by the KMT.

Michael

Anonymous said...

Did the majority of the active voters of taiwan support the pan-Blues here?

Alice30forever said...

when there are only 2 main parties to vote, most of us will go for the devil we know better than the devil we don't know.
What I see is that someone prefer to look back what DPP had done and what KMT had done to us, Please, that all past, let go. Can't we just focus the future and to trust our new leader.
I think this change is good..... it will push harder for the government and opposition to work harder for future votes.

Michael Turton said...

Did the majority of the active voters of taiwan support the pan-Blues here?

The majority of voters always support the pan-Blues in local elections. That's the way it has been for a decade now.

Michael

Arty said...

Look, Arty, I suggest you start with one of the major works on Taiwan's economic history, like Ho's Economic Development of Taiwan, or Lee Teng-hui's work on intersectoral pricing. The KMT's assets were generated by the price differential between the Taiwanese agricultural sector and the industrial concerns owned by the KMT and its allies.

Thanks to the wonder of internet. Some new thesis are online:

http://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/ker/74/2/74_191/_article

Don't know if you can access it or not, but it will be good for your soul Micheal to read it. It is published in 2005 and quoted Ho.

Btw, LTH didn't have a economics Ph.D. His Ph.D. is in agronomics. Who is more peasantry?

Zyzyx said...

Michael, in 1949 after the KMT retreated to Taiwan after they lost the civil war to the communists, they brought with them a large amount of wealth (70+% of gold reserve of the whole China ...) and a large group of intellectuals and highly educated professionals. These are the foundation for the wealthy Taiwan today, in addition to the hard work of the people.

Arty said...

Here is the Tinyurl to the article.

http://tinyurl.com/2cusvs

Anonymous said...

I'm the anonymous responding to Hai Tien's comments and cctang.

Hai Tien: The idealization of the past point is spot on. Two points: 1) some people were beneficiaries of the corruption and authoritarian society. When I read this article in the NY Times on Shiite Sunni animosity, this line really struck me: "Being Sunni used to count for something, they said". Even after all the atrocities come out

Second, the propaganda for the past 50 years worked. An absolute majority of people in Taiwan believed in the cult of Chiang Kai-shek, the Chinese KMT, and the Republic of China and even a lot of people that later became DPP supporters. You can't but respect the old Tang-wai and their absolute belief in democratic ideals and Taiwanese independence--not just the government but the whole environment was almost completely hostile to their presence and they fought and fought and fought and fought and fought and fought and 20-30 years later, we mostly have a democracy and a majority that wants to defend Taiwanese independence.

cctang:
Competition and elections of course aren't sufficient conditions for a healthy democracy. You also need transparency, a strong and independent judiciary, strong investigative media with high journalistic standards, etc. I find it very hard to believe that noncompetitive elections (Hsinchu, Miaoli, Keelung, Aboriginal reps, Taitung, majority of Taipei area districts) could be helpful to reducing corruption and increasing government efficiency.

On broadband in the US:
First, I want everyone to just try and remember how expensive long distance calls in the US used to be. In fact, today, they are cheaper than long range local calling. This is because there's a monopoly on local calling, but there is tons of competition on the long distance level.

For broadband, part of the problem is exactly that there isn't enough competition because of local line monopolies (and it's not necessarily cost effective in a lot of the rural areas). Again, I am a skeptic of government efficiency--it's possible a few municipalities could do a good job of getting high speed broadband implemented cheaply, but until it happens, I am a skeptic. Sort of off topic, except it relates back to Taiwan--WiMax could be the cheap, fast-enough broadband solution that could really be the kick in the ass to those only-game-in-town broadband providers to start providing decent service at reasonable prices.

Medical care is a whole 'nother issue I think, and is the exception that proves the rule. I'm personally supportive of national health insurance, though there are many variations of it that I am very wary of. In the majority of cases, competition makes the overall market/government more efficient, not less so.

Even China's government supposedly has been becoming more efficient because of competition between provinces to create the best business environment.

Patrick Cowsill said...

zyzyx,

I think you're overlooking $50 billion in aid from the US up until 1965 not to mention a Japanese-built infrastructure (hospitals, banks, railroads, schools, etc.) which also included "intellectual and highly educated intellectuals" to run it. These people actually looked down upon the imperialists coming in from China as raggedy-ass and backward.

Arty said...

For broadband, part of the problem is exactly that there isn't enough competition because of local line monopolies (and it's not necessarily cost effective in a lot of the rural areas). Again, I am a skeptic of government efficiency--it's possible a few municipalities could do a good job of getting high speed broadband implemented cheaply, but until it happens, I am a skeptic.

Just a little note for you. There is a 333 page book called "Optimal Regulation," by Kenneth E. Train which talk about government and natural monopoly. It is still my favor text-book, and it outlines exactly what the Federal regulator did in deregulating telecommunication and why. It is far more complicated than what it looks on the surface.

Arty said...

I think you're overlooking $50 billion in aid from the US

50 billion in 1965??? Would you mind showing me your source. That's a lot of money at that time considering you can buy a house for 12k or less in 1965 in the US. The article I quoted above stated the entire aids from US total 1.47 billion from 1951-1965 only. Also, the key is that the aid only restarted in 1951.