Wen-ti Sung scribed an excellent piece on the Taipei election over at the China Policy Institute blog, which should also be on your blogroll. Sung goes into great depth on the numbers game in Taipei. I've like to focus on one paragraph...
The lesson is that when the DPP’s rock-the-vote is effective, its total votes peaks at a very specific point – 690,000 when it is an incumbent or 630,000 when it is not, regardless of actual electoral turnout (so long as the turnout reaches around the 70% mark). In other words, as electoral turnout increases north of 70%, most of the new votes cast tend to be KMT votes. Given that the total votes cast in the four elections examined range from 1.4 to 1.6 million, it is clear that even at the DPP’s very best, it still doesn’t have the votes to win in Taipei.The 70% number is important and the KMT knows this. That is why the Taipei City government, blatantly interfering in the elections, is paying borough chiefs to get the turnout above 71%.
The debate was clearly won by Ko, and the questions did not reflect well on the pro-KMT side. The Taipei Times reports:
Typically, questioners ask the same question of each candidate to evaluate their thoughts on a particular issue, but Peng and Chiang asked separate questions of Ko and Lien.There are many interesting things here. The obvious bias in the questions was widely criticized. Note that both follow KMT formulae. The MG149 account is the usual attempt by the KMT to smear opposing candidates as corrupt. That smear has failed but the KMT is still pushing it.
Peng accused Ko of illegally operating the MG149 bank account associated with the National Taiwan University Hospital and asked if Ko would also set up such accounts if elected. Peng then asked Lien why he would risk his life to run in the mayoral election after surviving a gunshot during a campaign in 2010.
Chiang asked Ko to explain why he had torn a Republic of China national ID during a rally for a pro-independence group and if he would support Taiwanese independence after being elected. Chiang then asked Lien to explain his ideas about helping young people in the city in career development.
The gunshot thing is fascinating. Peng called attention to the accidental shooting of Lien several years ago by KMT-connected gangbangers who got the wrong man. As I noted then in 2010:
There is not the slightest hint of conspiracy about the Sean Lien shooting incident. Consider: here is an incident in which a gangbanger accidentally shot Lien Chan's son on stage while attempting to off another apparent gang-connected politician and was prevented from completing the killing by a made guy in the Bamboo Union gang (an organization with old KMT connections) on stage with the KMT candidate. A perfect opportunity to relentlessly attack the KMT as a gang-ridden, corrupt, violent party. And what does the DPP do? Natter on about conspiracy theories! Be serious!True to form, the issue of KMT-organized crime connections remains off the agenda. Any agenda. Yet it is one of the most fundamental shapers of the island's domestic political economy. The DPP has never used it to bash the KMT. Sad. Thus, Peng can raise the issue of the gangland shooting of Lien without ever worrying that it will be used against the KMT.
The KMT questions also highlight a couple of other issues. One is the claim that anti-KMT forces in Taiwan are violent and KMTers their selfless, helpless victims. Note how Peng frames the problem: Lien's life is automatically threatened since he is running against the pan-Greens, a classic Deep Blue claim, in which the poor mainlanders are always the victims. The question about Taiwan independence is a bald attempt to link Ko to bogeyman Chen Shui-bian (the best mayor Taipei ever had). Recall that this is in tandem with a crude leaflet campaign to link Ko's tearing up of his ROC ID to Chen Shui-bian, as Ben points out here. Chen Shui-bian is such a bogeyman that President and KMT Chair Ma Ying-jeou recently claimed that the bad oil scandals were caused by Chen.
Dead issue: the alleged tap on Ko Wen-je's phone lines. Now that Ko has positive spin going forward from the debate, he should let the tap issue quietly die. Ko announced yesterday that he would stop accepting campaign donations since he has sufficient money to finish the campaign.
The DPP's election newsletter for November is out. Ko's massive lead in Taipei is mirrored by polls in Taichung showing the DPP's Lin leading massively over the KMT's Hu. I'm having trouble believing them because everyone I talk to in Taichung says the election will be close and some say Hu will win. They could well be suffering from the same visceral disbelief I have, or simply covering up their real thoughts.
Don't miss Sean Lien nattering about his sacred quest, preserved by God, to serve Taipei city.
Also not to be missed: this review of the Taipei election in the context of competing nationalisms at Thinking Taiwan.
- Nov 18 Book Talk at National Taiwan University Eslite on early researchers in Taiwan
- No shit: the Nation has a piece on Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China's expansionism. Be still my beating heart. The Left remembering Taiwan exists?
- Apocalypse now: South Korea and Beijing ink free trade deal. Taiwan is doomed! Doomed!
- Why the US should protect Taiwan
- Also: Brookings hosted Nov 18 event on the Taiwan elections.
[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!