Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Local Political Struggles

The Taipei Times, one of the local green papers, reported on the KMT relaxing of the "Black Exclusion Clause" that restricted members' ability to run for local office....
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) recently relaxed its “black exclusion” clause, allowing party members who were involved in trials before Nov. 22 last year but not convicted in the first trial to run in the party’s primary for year-end city and county chief elections.

The party headquarters informed its local chapters of the regulation yesterday — one day before the first-stage primary registration closes — in a last-minute letter.

A party member who opposed the change criticized the party as giving up its last line of defense that would exclude those found guilty in a first trial from being nominated as a party candidate, a regulation that had been implemented since 2001. The member, who wished to remain anonymous, said the party would only tarnish its own image by relaxing the regulation — a move to prevent aspirants in the party from running as independent candidates.
At the local level such candidates are typically local faction politicians who, if prevented from running under the KMT banner, will often simply strike out on their own as an independent candidate, running against the KMT candidate. The KMT has long struggled to manage local faction politics, in some areas selecting one and crushing the others, in others rotating seats between factions to keep everyone happy.

Note that the change occurred the day before the primary -- both the relaxation of the rules and the timing remind me of when Ma Ying-jeou was indicted and the KMT cynically changed its rules at the last minute to permit him to run as its Presidential candidate.

Local elections will probably be seen as an early indicator of how the public views KMT rule over the island, though they probably should not be. Local elections tend to turn on local issues, personalities, and patronage networks, and people often vote for different parties for different positions. In a rather dramatic example from our last legislative election, for example, several local KMT politicians supported the DPP candidate, who eventually lost. I have not yet seen nor heard any sign of the DPP's local ground game in our area.

Also on tap this week was an article in the China Post on the Da-an by-election, which features a different look at the splits within the KMT:
Professor Yao Li-ming was expelled from the Kuomintang last week for he accepted the New Party nomination to run for the seat vacated by Diane Lee.

Lee had to resign as lawmaker in last December after she had been found to keep her U.S. citizenship. She had to quit the Kuomintang, whose candidate is Chiang Nai-hsin.

DPP leaders from its chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen on down converged at Chou's campaign office, pledging support and wishing him his election to succeed Lee.

He has an assured support of 600,000 voters in the Daan constituency, which is a strong power base of what is known as the pan-blue alliance.

Turnout in a by-election is low. An estimated 150,000 voters in Daan are expected to go to the polls on March 28 to elect their new legislator.

The pan-blue alliance always wins in Daan. It has support of three fifths of voters. If there is only one pan-blue candidate, he will obtain close to 90,000 votes. The DPP candidate has no chances to win, unless the alliance is divided.

Chiang and Chou are tied in voter support, a Kuomintang source said. “But,” he added, “we believe he is slightly ahead of his DPP rival.”

“We'll lose the March 28 election,” the source said, “unless the alliance remains united.”
I think the "600,000" there is a typo for "60,000" (two-fifths of the likely voters). As the article notes, Da-an is a Blue stronghold. But, it continues:

A top aide to Shih Ming-teh during the March of One Million in 2006, Yao enjoys support of hardcore Kuomintang supporters for Chinese unification.

Shih, a former DPP chairman, led his Redshirts in an attempt to topple President Chen Shui-bian. They demanded Chen step down to take responsibility for a spate of scandals.


The professor may take away votes from Chiang, who is a close friend of President Ma Ying-jeou's. But he can win enough support to beat Chiang and Chou.

....so basically there are two KMT candidates, one from the Ma Troop, the other from the hard-core unificationists, who sometimes accuse Ma of being a closeted Taiwan independence supporter, with the DPP candidate in between. The article also shows another side of the anti-Chen protests of '06: they were a New Party project in many ways.

The DPP has achieved its best successes when the Blues split -- in 1994, when Chen Shui-bian was elected mayor of Taipei in a three-way race, in the presidential election of 2000, when Lien Chan and James Soong split the Blue vote, and in the 2001 and 2004 legislative elections, when the Blue PFP grabbed over a million votes, enabling the DPP to become the single largest party in the legislature. Hopefully history will repeat itself.


cfimages said...

What would go a long way to helping the DPP win in Da-an would be someone having a word in Chen Shui-bian's ear and telling him to keep his mouth closed for the next few weeks. Pretty much everything he's said lately has been spun to make him - and the DPP by extension, even though he's no longer a member - look bad to the average person. The DPP needs the light-greens who are not particularly political to come out - if they stay at home one of the blue tickets could easily pick up the numbers from the equivalent light-blues. With a 3-way split of candidates (excluding any minor parties and indep), and an expected turnout of 150 000, the result could well come down to a few hundred votes.

Michael Turton said...

Craig --

I totally agree with this. The silver lining of detention is that Chen's voice isn't heard. In fact, after FT's Robin Kwong did a nifty bit of reporting to sneak in and interview him in prison, they restricted him still further.

If the KMT were smart, they'd let him free, where he could dampen Light Green sentiment on a national basis. Fortunately, well, it's the KMT....

Dixteel said...

Personally I am not optimistic of pan-green's chance in Da-an. Mrs. Lee was not without serious problems in the past. There was the incident of her wrongfully accusing the minister of health of sexual harassment on breakfast restaurant owner, and I remember there was another problem before that one, but can't remember what incident it was.

But Da-an residents elect her again and again. It just shows that Da-an area is one of the strongest "iron ticket" zone of KMT. It's a freakying fortress, made out of STEEL!!

On the bright side, if DPP or other candidate manage to win the election, or just not loss badly, that would be a great victory over the pan-blue.

Feiren said...

Yes, well the DPP is never going to win in Daan--it's the bluest district in the bluest city in Taiwan.

Like all good KMT politicians, Chiang is a hereditary politician. His father was a city councilman and provincial assembly member for decades.

Anonymous said...

"Like all good KMT politicians..."

Is there such a thing as a "good" KMT politician?

Taiwan Echo said...

Dixteel: "But Da-an residents elect her again and again. It just shows that Da-an area is one of the strongest "iron ticket" zone of KMT. It's a freakying fortress, made out of STEEL!!"

Netters in pro-green forum said that KMT can win Da-an even if they nominate a banana (派一根香蕉出來都選得上).

But looking from another angle: did Da-an people vote for her because she is pro-blue (so no matter what she did in the national level doesn't matter)?

Or because she is a good representative to Da-an residents (so no matter what she did in the national level doesn't matter) ?

I don't know how she fared in Da-an, so I can't tell. But since I don't know, I can't exclude that as a possibility. If that in fact is the case, then singling out "she's pro-blue" as the only reason will make green camp to go forward with blind eyes, which will further ensure future failure.

Can someone who knows more about her work in Da-an share more ?