In the Taipei City election the KMT managed to unite behind the speaker, but split for the vice-speaker election due to the usual situation of one politician angry at another, with the PFP switching sides. Still, it is progress.
While local council heads are traditionally dominated by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and independent councilors, the DPP, for the first time in the nation’s history, took both the speaker and deputy speaker seats in the Greater Tainan City Council, as well as deputy speaker seats in the Taipei and Greater Kaohsiung City Councils.
In Taipei City, the incumbent council speaker, Wu Bi-chu (吳碧珠), of the KMT garnered 37 seats and won the seat for the fourth time, while her DPP rival Lee Chien-chang (李建昌) received 32 votes.
However, DPP councilor Chou Po-ya (周柏雅) defeated the incumbent deputy speaker Chen Chin-hsiang (陳錦祥) by a 30 to 29 margin, making him the first-ever DPP member to serve as deputy speaker of Taipei City Council.
The KMT accounted for 30 of all 62 Taipei City councilors, while the DPP garnered 23 seats. There are eight councilors from the New Party, People First Party and Taiwan Solidarity Union, and one independent councilor.
The North-South income disparity is an important driver of the island's political life; but now emerging is a growing clash between the municipalities and the counties. For years, Taipei and Kaohsiung commanded a huge chunk of government money, with Taipei getting the majority of that. To counter Taipei's massive advantages, Taipei County, Kaohsiung and its county, Taichung and its county, and Tainan and its county have decided to upgrade to municipality status in order to collect a bigger share of the government budget. Recall that in the ROC system a municipality is the equivalent of a province whereas the counties remain merely local administrations. The result is a worsening of urban-rural budget issues:
Under the tabled revision, special municipalities are set to receive 61 percent of the money set aside by the central government, up from 43 percent and roughly proportionate with their share of the population.I wondered how income would be redistributed, but as in every country, income flows uphill toward power. The law revisions call for the municipalities to get 61 percent of the central government flows -- they used to get only 43%. I wondered how the government would handle the problem of all the new municipalities demanding new budget resources, and the answer is now clear: pillage the counties even more. The article referenced above opened with this emotional appeal:
At the same time, the share given to counties and local municipalities will fall to 24 percent from 39 percent — a figure that the county commissioners yesterday want revised upward.
Yunlin County is close to being unable to pay either the salaries or year-end bonuses of its 100,000 public servants.A month ago a commentary in the Taipei Times discussed the problems of local government debt in Taiwan, both public and "hidden":
Yilan County has a NT$20 billion (US$669.8 million) debt that is not getting any smaller, while Chiayi County has a NT$3 billion deficit it has not been able to reduce this year.
Last year’s audit report revealed that up until the end of last year, of the eight cities and counties that will make up the soon-to-be five special municipalities, Taipei City had the highest overall debt at NT$291.7 billion (US$9.58 billion), followed by Kaohsiung City at NT$211.2 billion, Taipei County at NT$108.1 billion, Taichung County at NT$48.5 billion, Tainan County at NT$44.5 billion, Tainan City at NT$31.7 billion and Kaohsiung County at NT$26.4 billion. Taichung City had the lowest overall debt at NT$7.2 billion.Similarly:
Debt is a critical driver of political history. The new municipalities now redefine the north-south tension as a municipal-county tension. The Taipei Times had a page on the sputtering nonsense of the mayors of Taipei city, Taipei County, Taichung, and Tainan:
A 2009 audit report showed that until the end of last year, the eight cities and counties set to make up the country's five new special municipalities from Dec. 25 had an estimated US$26.6 billion of debt, including money owed to national health and labor insurance programs, pension contributions and interest payments for the pension schemes of civil servants.
Taipei City had the highest overall debt at about US$9.9 billion, followed by Kaohsiung City with around US$6.6 billion.
Taichung City had the lowest overall debt of US$238 million, but its debt is set to increase to US$1.7 billion after its merges with Taichung County to form a special municipality on Dec. 25.
- New Cities, New Paths: Hau Lung-bin pledges to rejuvenate capital city
- New Cities, New Paths: Eric Chu heralds a ‘new age’ for ‘new’ city
- New Cities, New Paths: Greater Taichung’s Hu calls for ‘new concepts’
- New Cities, New Paths: Lai pledges to restore Tainan’s glory
Stressing that all resources would be equally shared and fairly distributed, she also pledged to reduce the gap between rural and urban areas.Awesome.
“I pledge there will absolutely be no such thing as a so-called ‘one city, two systems,’” she said.
She also called on the central government to attach more importance to the voices of southern Taiwanese.
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