Suddenly civil that yesterday rung
(Like a clapper beating a brazen bell)
Each fair reputation's eternal knell;
Hands no longer delivering blows,
And noses, for counting, arrayed in rows.
The Central Election Commission's (CEC) decision to combine the Presidential and Legislative Election and hold them jointly on January 14, 2012, has provoked quite a bit of commentary in the pan-Green media claiming that the move is bad for the DPP. I'm just going to list a few things in no particular order, good and bad for the DPP, that have crossed my desk:
- Holding the election on Jan 14 disenfranchises thousands of young voters who would have been able to vote had the Presidential election been held in March as is usual (here, for example). These voters tend to favor the DPP.
- That weekend is the weekend for college entrance exams, now moved to the Monday. Troublesome for many parents who want to accompany their children to the exams.
- That weekend is the weekend before Chinese New Year. For many Taipei residents who have their households down south, they will have to go south twice in two weeks, on crowded roads and transportation. This will deter many from returning south to vote.
- Since it is the weekend before Chinese New Year, many businessmen in China will return home a week early to vote. That makes convenient for them. Although many claim this bloc is somewhat pro-KMT I am not convinced of that.
- Combining elections allows the DPP to focus its money more economically, offsetting the KMT's massive financial advantages.
- Holding elections in Jan means that a large number of people who might have died before the March elections will be able to vote. In 2010 ~140,000 people died (here). Arguably this means an extra 35,000 people will be around to vote, more or less. This helps wash the 50,000 kids it is alleged will not be able to vote.
- Combining elections makes it more difficult for small parties to get seats (here).
- Combining elections means turnout will be higher. My perception is that higher turnout favors the DPP. In fact I have heard that the perception among both the DPP and KMT analysts is that the South is going to be a pro-DPP bloodbath. The KMT appears to be gambling that higher turnout will favor it.
- In a combined election vote buying to get people out to vote will for the first time affect the Presidential election, which is generally considered free of it. And we all know which party does the most vote buying.
- Because the Constitution specifies the swearing in of the president on May 20, the election creates a four month interregnum for the outgoing administration. This suggests to me that one reason the KMT is pursuing the claim that DPP politicians absconded with 36,000 documents is, well, you know, when the KMT accuses the DPP of something, it means they may well be doing it themselves....
- The fact that the government rushed through the combined elections before the laws had been properly amended implies a political motive for combining them (here).
Another issue I'd like to bring up. A couple of months ago the brilliant election observer Nathan at Frozen Garlic argued that if the legislative election follows the recent shifts in voting in the by-elections, city council and mayoral elections, the DPP could take as many as 34 seats and the KMT fall to 39 in the LY elections. I didn't buy that argument, probably due in part to my natural pessimism, but also because the blocs of voters for the LY, mayoral, and Presidential elections are not the same and behave differently. But the CEC has nullified my objection by effectively uniting all the disparate blocs of voters. Even if you argue that it hurts the DPP in the Presidential election, it might help it with the legislature. Looking forward to Nathan's next analysis!
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