Monday, December 01, 2014

Post Election Roundup, WWE edition

A sign that will bring back old Taiwan memories: "edible salt".

Wow... watching the KMT party core meltdown amid a local media frenzy is pure enjoyable spectacle, better than WWE.

The fun begins at the top as Vice Chairman and whatnot are resigning left and right. I updated yesterday's post to note that the KMT charter requires the President to be the Chairman of the Party. Ma thus has a perfect excuse not to resign. Media scuttlebutt says Ma will appoint Wu Den-yi, the current Veep, as Acting Chair (Can this be true? Ma and Wu running things? That's like having beer and pizza delivered to my door every night by the Swedish bikini team). Wu resigned his vice chairman post. As Ben observes today, the chairmanship situation is complicated: the KMT has one chair, a couple of honorary Chairs, 7 (or eight) vice chairs, and three honorary vice chairs. The KMT vice chairmanship has become the Schrodingers Cat of Taiwan politics: you don't know how many there at any given moment until you open the media.

The various KMTers were out there today variously indulging the media with various presentations of their own unvaried greatness. Eric Chu chose to go the Marc Anthony route, saying that if tabbed for the Chairmanship or the Presidential candidacy he'd do his duty for the party. Good lad, that, so self-sacrificing. Chu also complained that the KMT doesn't listen to the young. He's come rather late to that party.

Wu Den-yi, possible presidential contender, told the press about his family background, which was kind of fascinating, actually. He criticized Eric Chu for complacent campaigning and resigned his vice chairmanship in the KMT. Hau Long-bin, mayor of Taipei, who hasn't come out with any egg or mud on his face, also resign the same post. I think he's the dark horse behind Chu and Wu for the KMT presidential nod.

Lien Chan, ever the party loyalist, said that his son Sean Lien's loss in the Taipei Mayor election was all Ma Ying-jeou's fault. Yes, Ma Ying-jeou forced the party to accept Sean Lien as its candidate and then said the other candidate was a bastard who was a closet Japanese and ethnically divisive. Wait... those were Sean Lien supporters Lien Chan and Hau Pei-tsun who said those. Other news reports had Sean Lien's campaign as actually being run at times by his father, Lien Chan.

Hau's accusations about Ko will be replayed on the net if his son Mayor Hau Long-bin of Taipei finds himself getting the presidential nod and Hau is still alive at that point in 2016. Hau Senior did not only hurt Sean Lien.

Maybe Speaker of the Legislature Wang Jin-pyng, who was somebody once, is quietly being nobody. He said the other day he's not saying anything, and not making any predictions. Many have remarked on the vanishing of behind-the-scenes kingmaker King Pu-tsun, Ma's "little knife" hatchet man. Alex Tsai, Sean Lien's campaign manager, has also vanished. People joke that he's run off to China...

The cabinet resigned en masse today, enabling the Premier to resign, leaving the nation without a government. Will anyone notice?

Two tips'o'the'hat today -- one for @FormosaNation on Twitter, who spent this election telling me and Ben Goren that we were too pessimistic and the DPP was going to tsunamify the KMT. He was so right! The other goes out to Ben Goren, whose wide ranging post today is a great roundup of yesterdays events in the ongoing mess at the top of the KMT. Don't miss Jason Hu's f@ck-the-young comments, along with Ben's description of The Death Touch of Terry Gou and of course, (yet another) demonstration of the blatant double standards on China and Taiwan vs China and other countries of our commentating class. Well worth the price of admission.

Frozen Garlic, who is approaching this election like Harry Potter given a mysterious book of new spells, notes that the DPP made big gains in aboriginal townships. Frozen Garlic also looks at the numbers for Taoyuan, though nothing jumps out.

Other analyses: Bruce Jacobs at CPI. Wm Pesek at Bloomberg with another fine piece full of facts: Taiwan needs a reboot. Framing: China Post says it was China policy that cost the KMT the election.

Donovan Smith commented on my post from yesterday on Facebook:
I'll go further and note that back in the 60's and 70's the martial law govt/KMT put a lot of effort into cultivating internationally educated personnel (weighted heavily toward mainlanders) that would eventually become the reformist, less corrupt generation that managed to revive the party's fortunes after martial law ended. But who do they have now to follow them?

The KMT is going to have to change or perish. They're going to have to address some of the issues that Michael brings up, because otherwise, they're not going to have anyone to run with national credibility. If they attempt to continue on their current path through to the 2016 elections, they're going to lose. Once they lose that, combined with the loss of so many local govts, they're going to lose one of the most important assets they've always held: the perception in many people's minds that they are the more powerful party, and always will be. This will be especially true if they lose the Legislative Yuan as well, though they have a good shot at hanging on to that.
If it is numbers you want, Thinking Taiwan has another Insider with a fantastic set of numbers and facts on the election. Ben compares polls with the election reality.

Speaking of facts, some of you out there are saying that's the first 1 on 1 victory of a non-KMT candidate in Taipei history. But AFAIK Henry Gao of the tangwai beat a KMTer back in 1964 for the Taipei mayor slot. Gao's victory led to a massive KMT assault on democracy and independence activists, with over 250 given prison terms, and led the KMT to make Taipei an appointed mayoral position. Yes, Taipei was once a Green redoubt.

Oh, Wuerkaixi of Tiananmen fame is running in 2016 for the legislature in Taichung.

Austin Ramzy with a really good report in the NYTimes, focuses on local issues. Beijing's loss was our gain

The Economist also with some good focus on local factors, including the China trade failure and incomes.  LaoRenCha ranted on its its ridiculous double standards... But Economist claims "DPP corruption" (as fact!) cost the DPP the 2008 election, but assigns problems with China trade to voter perceptions. I can't wait to see Banyan's paean to the misunderstood greatness of Ma Ying-jeou.

Rounding up the reports:
Ralph Jennings in LA Times.
RFA: Taiwan Local Elections to Give Glimpse Into Voters' View of China
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!


Herman said...

I, too, share the happiness at the results of the elections. But, I fear that the voting public will be fickle and that if the economy doesn't come around, the DPP will be in for a shellacking in 2016 and 2018. I'm based in the US, so I'm not on the ground in Taiwan to get a real sense of the vibe there, but I think the KMT is too well-funded for this one election to be an indication of a fundamental shift in the electorate. I guess I compare it to the beating that US Democrats just took in the 2014 midterm elections...and yet, nobody is counting out their 2016 presidential prospects. It may be that the KMT doesn't have anybody as luminary as Hillary Clinton in their stable to run as a presidential candidate. But I expect the KMT attack dogs to be out in full force over the next two years, while Ma will accomodatingly veer towards the center.

Anonymous said...

Have you been following the Christian Science Monitor coverage? It's been pretty good. Here's the latest:

Carlos said...

Herman, it helps that there are only 14-16 months been this election and the presidential election in early 2016, rather than two years. And it's easier to perform well on a local level. The KMT is still in charge on a national level, so I wouldn't expect the DPP to take the blame if things don't improve.

But certainly things can change.

Judy Linton said...

Ha, loved the 'various' (X 4) sentence - genious! Thanks for another great read.

Anonymous said...

just fyi: the sign in the picture should be read R to L as "edible salt" which is table salt.

vin said...

To my mostly-ignorant eyes, he four families (Lien, Hau, Chu, and Wu [Po-hsiung’s]) can’t help but run the KMT into the ground if they stay in charge of the party in their customary disunited unified way that serves family interests first. Eric Chu appears to be the only insider with the possible means of preventing their staying in charge. There may well be key factors I’m unaware of that would preempt this scenario from ever playing out, but on the face of it, here’s what I’d do if I were Chu:

1. Refuse to run for president in 2016 as the mere Mayor of New Taipei City. (Chu seems to have already done this but to have then hedged.)
2. Fight like hell for the chairmanship, but not too loudly. If necessary, promise greater weight to the voices and opinions of the many disaffected KMT legislators in an effort to win.
3. Avoid making any unalterable commitment to run for president in 2016 as the price of being selected as chairman. If absolutely necessary, privately promise support to Hau or Wu Dun-yih as the presidential candidate in exchange for my gaining the chairmanship; but make every effort to avoid such a commitment otherwise.
4. Expect the other three families to fight my chairmanship candidacy tooth-and-nail, because they know I’m going to hogtie them if I win.
5. If I win, read the tea leaves for as long as I can before deciding on whether to run as the KMT candidate for president in 2016. If it looks like I have a chance to win, run. If my chances look not hot (more likely), institute as many reforms as possible before stepping down in the wake of the 2016 electoral loss, beginning with instituting a rule disallowing the chairman to be the prez nominee. No successor would dare undo this reform in the current and the foreseeable political climate. And promote as many allies as I can. Thus, I would be set me up well to run as an effective “reform” candidate in 20201/24; the other three families would have a hard time preventing my candidacy, because I can always draw one of them to my side at the expense of the other two, and because all three will know the alternative is political suicide for themselves (with greater-than-necessary collateral damage to future family business opportunities) as well as the party.

Maybe off-the- top-of-my-head equals off the wall. But getting ahead of the curve is the only thing to do right now, Chu seems to be the only heavyweight with a prayer of doing so, and it seems to me that something like this would fit the bill. Sorry for the length here…

Anonymous said...

Good comment Vin ~

Maybe add something like working closer with Terry Gou for economic advice (?) Yeah, I know he runs a slave shop at HonHai, but still he has respect.

P.S. Thanks Michael for the excellent election follow-up articles.