Despite President Ma Ying-jeou doubling as party chairman, the ruling Kuomintang is worried that it may lose control of at least five counties in the year-end nationwide local elections.First, the article discusses Hualien
The Kuomintang may lose Hualien, Hsinchu, Taitung, Taoyuan and Yilan.
Voters will go to the polls to elect 17 mayors and county magistrates in December, but the ruling party can't field electable magistrates in the five counties.
Wu Poh-hsiung, Kuomintang chairman, gave Yeh Chin-chuan, minister of health, an ultimatum to accept a draft for the magistracy election in Hualien.It's bizarre to nominate Yeh, an internationally recognized epidemiologist, for the position of Hualien County magistrate, especially since the KMT is such a lock in Hualien I don't think the DPP is even fielding a candidate. They could nominate a slab of beef and still get 60% of the vote. I think the article is a bit overwrought here. It claims that a DPP source says the DPP expects to get four of the five counties. I don't see that, but you never know. The article looks a lot like one of those pieces meant to rally voters against the Serious Threat.
Yeh is still dithering, while Kuomintang Fu Kun-cheng vows to run, though he couldn't be nominated. Fu has been convicted of insider trading and sentenced to ten years in prison.
The papers also reported today that the KMT is going to have a primary in Hualien. Yeh had said he would step down to run if there was no primary, since he didn't want to split the party (which might even be true). His chief rival, a local politician by the name of Fu, has corruption problems. The Taiwan News report says that Yeh is close to President Ma, which may explain the bizarre choice of an outsider for Hualien who is the current health minister.
In Taoyuan, which the China Post named as problematic, John Wu, the son of Wu Po-Hsiung, the Chairman prior to Ma, won the primary. Wu is a Hakka, and Taoyuan has a large Hakka contingent. Wu is not known for being close to Ma.
According to the China Post piece, the KMT has split in Hsinchu and in Taitung, where independent candidates have essentially spun off from the KMT to run their own campaigns. This is a recurrent problem for both parties but is especially serious for the KMT, with its longstanding links to rival factions in local areas that it must satisfy with patronage positions.
In the martial law era the KMT generally rotated local political positions between rival factions, which were permitted to carry on politics through their patronage networks, in the local area. The one rule was that no faction was permitted to operate at the national level -- that position was reserved for the Party-State created by the KMT.
The pattern of fissioning is also seen at the legislative level.For example, recently the KMT had a bit of politics as usual. Chang Sho-wen, the KMT legislator, had his election annulled after a conviction and lost appeal for vote buying. His father then decided to run for the seat in the by-election in September -- nepotism being the order of the day in local politics, the unusual thing being the move from son to father. Usually things go in the other direction.
Problem was that Dad also had a corruption problem and couldn't run under the KMT by-laws. The article put it very delicately:
Wu Den-yih, KMT Vice Chairman and General-secretary, visited Chang Hui-yuan and Chang Sho-wen on July 29, but failed to gain their acceptance of the fact that Chang Hui-yuan could not run as a KMT candidateOn July 30th the son announced that Dear Old Dad had quit the Party and would run as an independent candidate. The problem with local politics here is that local politicians frequently do not think of anything beyond the local area -- they often do not consider themselves to be members of the national party or national polity. They have patronage networks that must be fed and watered, and the only way to keep Eldest Brother's construction company and Second Uncle's Concrete Firm satisfied is keep that flow of public works funds coming to their faction.
Meanwhile in Chiayi local faction rivalries brought the DPP an advantage. The new DPP nominee for the County Chief position is Chang Hua-kuan, Chang is the widow of a former KMT legislator, who piled up big bucks from factories in Cambodia, and a key leader of the powerful Lin faction in Chiayi. She joined the DPP in 2001 when first elected as a legislator. She's obviously got the resources and the patronage base to win the magistrate's position in Chiayi, where there is a solid DPP voter base.
Plenty of days until September, and the only safe bet is on more faction splits, more patronage politics, and plenty of cash being spread around local patronage networks.
REF: Bruce Jacobs' magnificent book, Local Politics in Rural Taiwan under Dictatorship and Democracy.
- In case you were worried, CWB says the recent spate of quakes does not presage The Big One.
- Record heat, no typhoons, mean water levels in Taiwan reservoirs are plummeting.
- Patrick Cowsill has some cogent observations on credit cards and train reservations. Things would be so much better if year after year, foreigners didn't face the same stupid, easily solved problems.
- A new blog on being vegan in Taiwan. First step: get passport from Vega.
- NYTimes with a nice piece on director Ang Lee.
- UBS says housing prices to go up 20-30% here in next three years. That will make it so much easier for couples with stagnant incomes to afford housing.
[Taiwan] Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!