Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Su to run for Taipei mayor in December

Su speaks at a DPP rally in 2008 (post with more pics).

It pretty much became official today that former Premier Su Tseng-chang, the popular DPP politician, will run for mayor of Taipei at the end of the year. The formal nominating process remains to be completed, though it is all but certain Su will be the man. Su is widely considered the only DPP politician popular enough in the north to compete for either the Presidency, the mayoralty of Taipei, or the mayoralty of the new municipality, New North City (Xinbei), which comes into existence at the beginning of next year. Hence, there had been much media speculation about which post he would pick. If he wins the Taipei mayor election, he will be mayor, but it is generally held that Taipei is Blue and he will likely lose, leaving him free to run for president in 2012, and still keeping him in the public eye for months during the Taipei City election season.

I don't approve of this move at all. I had been hoping they would save Su to stump for the candidates in the two municipalities, and run him against Ma in 2012. It is absolutely imperative to defeat Ma in 2012. The municipalities are important, but Ma must go.

Below I've collected the vote counts for the mayor elections in 1994, 1998, 2002, and 2006.

2006
KMT 692,085 (53.81)
DPP 525,869 (40.89)
Other 68,135 ( 5.30)

2002
KMT 873102 (64.1)
DPP 488811 (35.9)

1998
KMT 766377 (51.1)
DPP 688072 (45.9)

1994
KMT 364618 (25.9)
DPP 615090 (43.7)
New 424905 (30.2)

Turnout was 64% in the most recent election, it had been around 70% previously. The current mayor, Hau, is lackluster and does not bring out Blue voters like Ma Ying-jeou did.

As you can see, the Blue vote typically runs 51-55% of the total vote, except for the anomalous 2002 election when Ma won a crushing victory. The DPP typically gets 40-45%. This means that if 5% of the votes shift from the KMT to the DPP, the DPP has a good shot at a win. If 10% of the Blue vote stays home, the DPP will win -- and Blue voters are staying home in droves at present. If the logic of this move is to keep Su in the game for 2012, then it is a gambling on the whim of 5% of the electorate.

Another way to look at is look at the DPP vote peak in 1998 -- 688K, and the KMT vote last time around, 692K. That is a difference of just 4,000 votes. Hau Lung-bin, the current mayor and probable candidate, lacks the popularity Ma enjoyed, and there is no reason at present to think we will see a significant gain in KMT voters for this election. If Su reaches the DPP high, and the KMT performance is lackluster, just a couple of thousand voters have to switch to make Su the mayor. And the DPP has been doing well lately.....
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36 comments:

Thoth Harris said...

Wouldn't Chen Chu be the best bet for a 2012 Presidential candidate? It seems to me everybody likes here, maybe even those undecideds who normally don't like the pan-Greens.

Michael Turton said...

Hmmm.... that's a provocative choice. I think she's just not presidential. Su has marvelous gravitas including a deep bass voice that's really a pleasure to listen to.

Tough choice for 2012.

Michael

Anonymous said...

I agree with Michael. Part of Ma's appeal was his carefully groomed image of looking "presidential".

Chen was often criticized, fairly or not, for being too "low class". He failed to attract the "sophisticates" due to his "low" image.

Chen Chu is very good as a folksy Taiwanese politician with many of the positive characteristics that made Chen Shui bian a champion of the south. It is just that that image does not play as well north of Taichung where a lot of vital support will need to come from if the DPP is going to take back the presidency.

They may field Tsai Ying wen, which would be a shame as she has done a great job organizing and neutralizing the old Tang Wai factions. She is better as the General.

There are whispers that Lin Yi Hsiung might run, which could be a positive as he is well respected, known for his honesty and integrity and has been largely aloof from the Chen administration and all the baggage that comes with it. The problem may be that he represents a faction of the old guard of the DPP that alienated so many people and because he has been so aloof from politics over the past decade he has not been out glad handing the public and so his profile is somewhat diminished.

Frank Hsieh was clever, smart and capable. He was also short, wonky and a little bit ugly. People are superficial that way. During their debates on TV he did not have the stage presence of Ma. He also fought the a largely recycled, formulaic campaign that sadly had all the charisma and sex appeal of a 4-H sheep judging contest.

Dixteel said...

I don't think Chen Chu is popular enough to win a presidency. She is only popular in certain part of Kaohsiung. I could be wrong though. The only real problem is who the heck is going for the 2012 presidential election...But from what Su said it seems the DPP has some sort of plan in mind already, otherwise he won't just jump in like he is fully committed.

Robert R. said...

Michael,

Can you add in the candidate names in your table? It helps draw out how the various personalities (which you describe afterwards) may have influenced the vote count.

Chen Chu had a great round of publicity last year in the run-up to the world games, including her relatively well played trip to China. Alas, that'll be long forgotten in 2012.

Anonymous said...

Hey Michael,

I'm not too knowledgeable about Taiwanese politics but I do have an interest in it. My question is, other than stances on independence and China relations, are there any other significant differences between KMT and DPP?

N.J said...

DPP vote peak in 1998 - 688K was due to Bian incumbent factor.

Su would win Taipei City then resign 18 months later ( will the city need a by-election? ) to take part in 2012 presidential elections.

阿牛 said...

I actually think Su has decided 2012 is not going to be an easy year to win the presidency, and that Ma will probably take it again. I think he's bidding on Taipei City because he thinks there's a decent chance he can win, get a good record and even better name among Taipei people, and have a real shot in 2016.

This assumes, of course, there will be a 2016. ;) But I do think this is Su's most likely reason for the decision. He's done Taipei County already and Pingtung. Taipei City's the last piece of the puzzle.

Richard said...

What's your thoughts on Frank Hsieh? I might be mistaken, but I always thought he had great support in the south. And if voter dissatisfaction with the KMT continues, I don't see it taking much for Hsieh to win over Ma, especially if the blues just stay at home in the north, the middle/south votes for Hsieh could carry him to a win even without significant votes from the north?

Or is it mainly due to him already losing to Ma once in 2008, that it might somehow hurt his image?

Anonymous said...

Su Tseng Chang was one of the Meilidao lawyers, so he has his idealism, but these days, he doesn't really say anything interesting on his vision for Taiwan. I'm afraid he'd be simply be a good, pragmatic executive with somewhat populist (and somewhat dangerous) leanings. Unfortunately, I don't think that's good enough for the hole Taiwan is in right now.

Su does have a forcefulness about his presence though that is invaluable asset to a leader (and is a huge contrast to Ma Ying-jeou who is... girly).

Chen Chu is a definite inspiring leader who DOES say interesting things about what directions Taiwan needs to move in. To be honest, me and I think a lot of Greens saw Chen Chu as a bit uneducated and did not think she would be a good mayor, but she has done an

DPP Chair Tsai Ying-wen is another. Tsai's only drawback I would say is that she is not animated or emotional enough, but that actually has a lot of appeal in Taipei City and among Blue women (like teachers).

Let's see if the DPP puts together any kind of interesting joint platform for the 5 municipality election. If they do, I would look carefully at who's leading and who's driving the ideas for who might be the best to lead the DPP in 2012.

Marc said...

I heard that Chen Chu's health may be a factor in deciding future roles. Take this with a grain of salt, of course.

Michael Turton said...

My question is, other than stances on independence and China relations, are there any other significant differences between KMT and DPP?

Yes, and if there is anything I am fucking sick of, it's brainless clods claiming the two parties are the same. They have diametrically opposed attitudes toward Taiwan and caring for the island, as well as fostering democracy. For example, the DPP carried a number of military reforms that placed civilians in control of the military, and removed the ruling party from the military. It attempted to depoliticize the military. Similarly, the DPP put forward a large bill when Chen was president that viewed the water resources of Taiwan in a complex and integrated way, which the KMT blocked many times before finally turning it into a bog-standard construction industrial state project. I could go on.

The DPP is a deeply flawed and hypocritical party, but it is light years different from the KMT.

Anonymous said...

Exactly right Michael!

Lot's of voters use the "they're all the same" argument to justify their disengagement from politics or to justify a vote against their interests (voting KMT).

In some respects they can look similar in that neither party is really a labor party and they both cozy up to the interests of big business... to a degree.

The difference, as Michael stated above, is that the DPP views Taiwan as a center. This conforms with the overriding opinion of Taiwanese. For Taiwanese they imagine Taiwan as THEIR community. The "we" factor.

The KMT views Taiwan as a periphery and therefore makes policy that treats Taiwan as less than the center of their world.

These conflicting cosmologies have a huge impact of the laws being made and passed.

Eric said...

It attempted to depoliticize the military. Similarly, the DPP put forward a large bill when Chen was president that viewed the water resources of Taiwan in a complex and integrated way, which the KMT blocked many times before finally turning it into a bog-standard construction industrial state project. I could go on.

Michael, could you please go on? lol

Thomas said...

I had a similar thought as A Gu when I heard that Su had decided to run in Taipei. He might be looking at a run in 2016 if he wins and in 2012 if he loses.

If he does win though, and the DPP can pull of wins in at least two other cities, could the victory itself be enough to make winning against Ma in 2012 easier for DPP politicians that have less of a forceful presence than Su or who might otherwise not be as strong in the North? An effete leader and KMT party chairman who can't win any elections for his party might turn off voters simply by virtue of losing too many times.

Perhaps too many people are worrying too much about exactly who will run in 2012 at this stage. A convincing DPP victory might significantly change the conditions of the political playing field. And, if Su does lose, he can still run in 2012 if he has the support.

Su's announcement also got me thinking about Chou Hsi-wei and Eric Chu in Taipei County. I wonder if there will be any quiet but bitter resentment on the part of Chou's supporters. Whatever the reasons for Chou's withdrawl/dismissal, the teary-eyed nature of his speech announcing his decision not to run did give the impression that a cold and calculating hand was pulling his strings in a non-face-saving way.

Richard said...

Well scratch the Hsieh comment I made earlier. My dad reminded me that Frank Hsieh did the usual Taiwanese vow, to "quit politics forever" if he lost the '08 presidential elections.

Anonymous said...

My question is, other than stances on independence and China relations, are there any other significant differences between KMT and DPP?

Yes, and if there is anything I am fucking sick of, it's brainless clods claiming the two parties are the same.

You don't get it. People see them as the same because their (the politicians) first allegiance is to their own power, money, etc. In that, both parties are the same. Everything else flows from that - the KMT reps/legislators et al see opening trade doors and talking to China as the best way to line their pockets, the DPP reps/legislators et al see the reverse.

They'll do enough to try to win votes but that's all. Whether their policies are good for Taiwan or not is immaterial - it's money and power they're after.

That's why people say there's no difference.

Marc said...

Related to Su running/not running for president, wouldn't it be better for the DPP to focus on winning more legislative and mayoral seats?

I think we all know regional power is often more influential than the executive. Witness all the former KMT candidates who ignore their party, and the legislative reps who seem to so easily sit on legislation when it doesn't personally aggrandize.

Perhaps I'm wrong, but is being president of Taiwan all that powerful? Doesn't the office of premier hold more hard power?

dennis said...

everyone will have their own rational behind how Su should be "utilized", and they all make sense. I'd like to refer you to this article Ah Bian recently wrote:
http://neoformosamagz.blogspot.com/2010/03/20122012.html
where he gives his take on how the result of mayoralty election can affect a presidential election.

Anonymous said...

Michael,

You should post the Su Tsen-Chang video of him announcing his candidacy. He is very different in public speaking than he is when speaking to a reporter, which actually sounds stilted. Probably some people aren't familiar with Su.

http://youtube.com/user/twyes has it.

Michael Turton said...

In that, both parties are the same. Everything else flows from that - the KMT reps/legislators et al see opening trade doors and talking to China as the best way to line their pockets, the DPP reps/legislators et al see the reverse.

The reason people make this claim is because it serves the KMT.

Anonymous said...

The reason people make this claim is because it serves the KMT.

No, the reason people make that claim is because it reflects reality. Look at how quickly Shih Ming-da sold the DPP out a few years ago or Frank Hsieh's corruption surrounding the World Games. Both doing whatever they feel will serve their best interests, legality and/or ethics be damned.

Making it into a Bush style "with us or against us" just makes you sound like you're wearing the rose-colored specs in regard to politics. That's just naive.

Michael Turton said...

No, the reason people make that claim is because it reflects reality. Look at how quickly Shih Ming-da sold the DPP out a few years ago or Frank Hsieh's corruption surrounding the World Games. Both doing whatever they feel will serve their best interests, legality and/or ethics be damned

See? The charges against Frank Hsieh were part of a Blue slander compaign that failed when all the charges were either dropped or Hsieh was cleared. Now he is suing those who made the charges. Oops!

I realize that this reality won't penetrate the KMT cocoon that insulates your perception of Taiwan politics, but others are reading this.

Shih Ming-te sold out the DPP -- hundreds of politicians didn't. Clearly that means that the DPP and the KMT are the same. Because a handful of politicians took the cash and went to work for the KMT.

Never mind, as is constantly demonstrated in election after election, putting DPP/pan-Green people into power has real world consequences that are different from putting KMTers into power.

Thanks again for demonstrating that too many people out there have the kind of analytical skills that belong in an opium den.

Obviously there are self-seeking politicians in both parties. Obviously there are plenty of assholes. And if you only focus on them, sure, you can maintain that both parties are the same. But I take a rather wider view -- one that intersects the world as it is, not one driven by the Blue media, one of whose most important propaganda themes is the creation of cynicism about democratic politics and a sense of declining social order among the citizenry.

Michael

Anonymous said...

There is always the faked sex tape that helped Hsieh win the KHH mayoralty in the first place. Then the management/corruption of the KMRT project that lead to the foreign workers rioting (because we all know how much the DPP cares about human rights). Then the hateful insults against people who decide to marry Chinese partners, playing on the stereotype of "cheap" Chinese women. And of course the inevitable broken promise to retire from politics if he lost the election.
As for the World Games, he has proclaimed his innocence and is suing his accusers, but aren't you applying double standards. If a KMT politician is accused, he is always guilty; but when a DPP politician is accused it is is a nasty smear campaign.

Anonymous said...

I realize that this reality won't penetrate the KMT cocoon that insulates your perception of Taiwan politics, but others are reading this.

Interesting thing to say, especially considering I've voted DPP as often as I've voted KMT. Who did you vote for? Oh I forgot, you can't.

The charges against Frank Hsieh were part of a Blue slander compaign that failed when all the charges were either dropped or Hsieh was cleared. Now he is suing those who made the charges. Oops!

I'm glad you mentioned that Hsieh is clean, using the reasons you gave. I suppose you also believe Ma isn't corrupt. After all, he was never convicted either.

Marc said...

I think the issue whether the KMT and DPP are the same is irrelevant. However, this organizational system of government certainly maintains its dysfunctions, which makes it challenging to conduct the business of good governance, and creates temptations, which may subsume all parties by quietly justifying or condoning unethical behaviors as 'the way it has always been.'

Michael Turton said...

,I'm glad you mentioned that Hsieh is clean, using the reasons you gave. I suppose you also believe Ma isn't corrupt. After all, he was never convicted either.

Hilarious. Your point blows up in your face, and you're still here.

Interesting thing to say, especially considering I've voted DPP as often as I've voted KMT. Who did you vote for? Oh I forgot, you can't.

Brilliant point! Yes, clearly, since I'm not a citizen, it is impossible for me to see differences between the KMT and the DPP. That is a special magic power available only to citizens.

You're welcome to stop focusing on me and focus on defending the KMT = DPP point (except of course there is no way to retrieve your point, since it is a KMTard propaganda claim). So now I can understand why you've suddenly shifted to me.

Michael

Anonymous said...

The "all parties/politicians are the same" mantra is a by-product of Chinese culture. Chinese people are taught that rulers are special, and they are not, which is why some rule and some serve. This means that you can't question your leaders, because they know better than you. And since you are just a peon in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter who is in charge.

Think as if you are a janitor at a big large multi-national company. No matter what you do, you can't change the company's policies, so it doesn't matter who is in charge.

The reality is that democracy bestows much, much more power than the "janitor in the company" scenario, but lots of Taiwanese don't realize it. Therefore they accept the fact that all parties are the same, and that nothing they can do will make a difference.

We really need to get rid of all this excess Chinese culture, like Japan and Korea and Vietnam. It won't be the solution, but it'll be a start.

Anonymous said...

You're welcome to stop focusing on me and focus on defending the KMT = DPP point (except of course there is no way to retrieve your point, since it is a KMTard propaganda claim). So now I can understand why you've suddenly shifted to me

If I were a KMT supporter, you might have a point. Problem is I'm not, so there's no need for me to swallow either side's propaganda.

I think it's pretty likely that someone who was born and bred here may be a touch more in tune with the subtleties than a foreign English teacher (nothing against foreign English teachers, after all I learned the language from them).

The Hsieh point was that just because he wasn't found guilty doesn't mean he's clean. Ma was also found not guilty but he's as dirty as they come.

Islander said...

I think the KMT and DPP are different in a very important way. The KMT is the wealthiest political party in the world and the DPP has very little funds. You don't get this discrepancy there there weren't fundamental differences.

Anonymous said...

It's annoying that Hsieh is going to contemplate running even though he said he would leave politics if he lost the presidential election. It will completely destroy his credibility if he runs, and right now, it's no better that he allows rumors of him running to continue. I have a feeling that he just simply feels morally superior to Ma Ying-jeou (which is very likely to be true), but that's not a good reason to turn yourself into a liar.

Anonymous said...

The "all parties/politicians are the same" mantra is a by-product of Chinese culture. Chinese people are taught that rulers are special, and they are not, which is why some rule and some serve. This means that you can't question your leaders, because they know better than you. And since you are just a peon in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter who is in charge.

What a load of crap. The "all parties are the same" mantra is heard in all democratic counties. It is actually much less prevalent in Taiwan because of the extreme partisan nature of the politics. And Taiwanese people do not think their leaders know better, especially when they are from the "other side", indeed they spend most of their time bitching about their incompetence. These lazy references to Chinese culture really do not illuminate anything.

I think it's pretty likely that someone who was born and bred here may be a touch more in tune with the subtleties than a foreign English teacher (nothing against foreign English teachers, after all I learned the language from them).

Ha, you speak English rather well. Sure you learnt it from one of the Engrish teacher's in Taiwan, it seems unlikely. Trolling?

Johan said...

"I think it's pretty likely that someone who was born and bred here may be a touch more in tune with the subtleties than a foreign English teacher."

and you are....?
Oh yes, "anonymous". And thus, by stating the above, rather pretentious.

(from another English teacher not in tune with the subtleties after 14 years of residence in Taiwan)

davechang said...

I think it's pretty likely that someone who was born and bred here may be a touch more in tune with the subtleties than a foreign English teacher (nothing against foreign English teachers, after all I learned the language from them).


That is a ridiculous comment and a sweeping generalization that shouldn't even need to elicit a response. When the subtleties may go over the heads of experienced Asia Bureau reporters, your "foreign English teacher" has provided a balanced commentary day after day with analysis that can't be found in terribly biased newspapers (on both sides). I find that many Taiwanese, influenced by the constant 24-7 news media, are severely entrenched in their political viewpoints with little or no appetite for debate or discourse.

Effective critical thinking does not take the media as a completely factual and objective medium, but draws upon logic, concepts, and plans to visualize and articulate an argument. That is difficult to find.

Subtleties is important to understanding the political landscape but is not limited to only local Taiwanese. Foreigners who have immersed themselves within Taiwan, utilize an objective eye, and supplement their learning with other commentators and sources are just as understanding of the subtleties if not more than pigheaded supporters. Michael has it, and can offer a fresh perspective, perhaps something a local has yet to realize.

Anonymous said...

The "all parties/politicians are the same" mantra is a by-product of Chinese culture.

This also occurs in the USA, mainly because its a stereotype with a very, very large grain of truth in it. I think this is somewhat of a universal truth...I wonder how this blog viewed Ah-bian before it turned out he was a crook...man, that KMT is so good at framing the heroic DPP members!

Power corrupts...even if not absolutely. Those who think "their party" can do no wrong, should be very, very cautious.

Joyce said...

>>Yes, clearly, since I'm not a citizen, it is impossible for me to see differences between the KMT and the DPP. That is a special magic power available only to citizens<<

I know some Taiwanese (my age=40s) who are much less in tune with what's going on in their country as are some "non-citizens" like yourself.