The two major KMT factions in Yunlin County are the Chang (張) and Hsu (許)families. No doubt a split between independent candidate Chang Hui-yuan (張輝元) and KMT candidate Chang Ken-hui (張艮輝) from the Chang family, which is led by former Yunlin County commissioner Chang Jung-wei (張榮味), was a key factor behind Liu’s victory. Meanwhile, the Hsu family, which was first headed by another former Yunlin County commissioner, Hsu Wen-chi (許文志), and is now led by his son Hsu Shu-po (許舒博), boycotted the Chang Ken-hui campaign to express their discontent with the KMT’s decision to backtrack on the nomination of Hsu Shu-po as chairperson of Taipei Financial Center Corp in June amid speculation that the nomination was political payback for Hsu Shu-po’s withdrawal from the KMT’s Yunlin County commissioner primary.This loss was followed by ranking KMT politician Wu Po-hsiung's visit to Yunlin to attempt to mediate between the six factions to see if they can agree on a candidate for the Yunlin county commissioner. If the faction splits continue the DPP candidate for county chief could be a major winner in Yunlin. At the same time, the party dispatched another heavyweight to see if it could solve the problems in Hualien, where Ma Ying-jeou's handpicked County Magistrate, Yeh Ching-chuan, basically sent down from Taipei, was soundly beaten in the KMT primary as voters opted for a local. Mediation by KMT HQ became necessary when disgraced legislator Fu Kun-chi announced he would probably be a candidate for commissioner as well.
In other words, it was the Hsu family’s passivity that contributed to the low voter turnout (45.55 percent) and the low number of combined votes garnered by the two Changs (52,025 votes), which accounted for just 70 percent of the number of votes garnered by Liu (74,272 votes). Neither supporters of the Hsu family nor a majority of voters in general wanted the Chang family to control all political resources in the county. Moreover, given tensions between senior KMT officials and Hsu Shu-po, there was no need for supporters of the Hsu family to back KMT candidates to prevent the party from being defeated in the by-election.
The Taipei Times manfully strove to argue that the recent thumping in Yunlin, the Penghu Casino Referendum defeat, and the loss in Miaoli back in March show that the KMT brand has been damaged by the Ma Administration's loss of popularity. As the Da-an by-election shows, there is probably an element of this involved, but I am wondering if there is a neglected structural factor at work as well.
The common link between the three cases is that in each case the KMT split because a powerful local politician didn't get the party nomination. In Miaoli the party cynically nominated the wife of Lee E-tin, the legislator who had lost the seat in the first place due to vote buying. The winner was another KMTer who had left the party to run against him, and who promised to vote with the DPP in the legislature -- the DPP didn't even have a candidate in the race.[UPDATE: Commenter below says he caucuses with the NPSU]. In Yunlin the KMT again split, handing a crushing victory to the DPP. In Hualien the losing candidate in the primary will probably also run a separate race. Finally in the Da-an by-election held back in March when Diane Lee was found to be a US citizen, the Blue vote was split, although the New Party did not affect the outcome (and the DPP candidate did relatively well).
I am wondering if what we are really seeing in such splits is the longterm result of the reduction in the size of the legislature, from 225 seats to 113 -- meaning that basically half the faction politicians who used to be able to get seats must now toil in the wilderness. As a resource becomes scarce, its value rises, and individuals will go to greater lengths to obtain it, whether it be petroleum or legislative positions. In this case, I wonder if more and more politicians who used to prosper in the bosom of the KMT may well consider that their livelihood depends on greater....independence.
UPDATE II: The CNA published this news on similar splits in many areas:
Former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislator Wu Cheng-tien (吳成典) yesterday ignored possible disciplinary action from the KMT and established campaign headquarters to announce his candidacy in the year-end Kinmen County commissioner election. Wu lost the party primary to Kinmen County Councilor Lee Wuo-shih (李沃士) earlier this year. The KMT nominated Lee in June....UPDATE III: Add Chiayi, where sources say the Hsaio faction, in the person of Hsiao Teng-piao, is peeved at the KMT and may also mount an independent candidacy.
Lee’s announcement created another pan-blue split for the KMT in local government elections scheduled for Dec. 5, with the party scrambling to handle splits in Hualien, Taoyuan, Taitung and Hsinchu.
More Daily Links:
- MOFA to close Taipei's Jo-burg representative office.
- Taiwan rushes for 168 yards and 3 TDs in 38-3 victory.
- AmCham says the government must make a greater case for ECFA, and correctly notes that low drug prices will hurt industry here in the long run.
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