Friday, January 25, 2013

Big By-election in Taichung Area...not really

A K-town street.

UPDATE: Low turnout leads to close victory for KMT by a mere 1200 votes after Yen Sr. won by 39,000 the last time. Much better than I expected the DPP to do. But it also goes to show how Taiwanese bitch about political corruption, and then, when given the clear choice....

By-election in Taichung District 2 looks to be an easy KMT win though the DPP is pushing hard for votes..... the Taipei Times reports:
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) appears to be hoping that a conflict between Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) candidate Yen Kuan-hen (顏寬恆) and President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) could help it win tomorrow’s legislative by-election in Greater Taichung’s second electoral district.
Wait...what is the conflict the DPP hopes to exploit?
“Ma, who is the KMT’s chairman, has not campaigned for Yen, and Yen has not used the KMT’s logo during his campaign, nor has he emphasized that he represents the KMT,” DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said at a campaign stop in Greater Taichung.
...and the situation?
The DPP has promoted the by-election as a vote of no confidence in Ma’s governance in an apparent effort to neutralize the Yen family’s strong political presence in the electoral district, a traditional KMT stronghold which includes the districts of Shalu (沙鹿), Longjing (龍井), Wurih (烏日), Dadu (大肚), Wufeng (霧峰) and part of Dali (大里).
The Yen family is the family that runs the big Matsu procession that terminates at the Dajia temple (Check out this informative post from two years ago). Its patriarch Yen Ching-piao himself is a former KMTer who parted ways with the KMT because he was... umm.... too colorful. In reality he's independent of the KMT in the sense that the Byelorussian SSR was independent of the USSR, as I noted before. Yen Sr. is reliably pro-KMT and pan-Blue and Yen Jr. is running as a KMT politician. Yen is probably the most representative local politician in Taiwan, making a fortune from gravel operations, running a powerful political patronage empire, with tight links to the ruling party, and also cultivating links to China through religious and business links. I've noted on several occasions that one of the most important beneficiaries of the burgeoning cross-strait relationship is cross-strait organized crime. Actually I don't even know why I wrote that last sentence. It has nothing to do with the rest of the paragraph. Did I mention that Ma hilariously appointed Yen Sr. the Administration's ECFA spokesman?

But anyway, the Yen family comprises one of the most powerful political patronage networks on the island. They are solidly behind the son. The dearth of Ma and other senior figures is probably not indicative of any split, but rather is more likely a wish to avoid calling undue attention to the KMT's deep and abiding involvement with...colorful local figures (like Ma's secretary planning major gangster funerals here or the massive wedding of Yen Ching-piao's son attended by KMT bigshots here/here), or even more likely, the Yen family's lock on Taichung 2 is so strong that bringing out the big guns isn't necessary. As Frozen Garlic noted a while back:
There are two interesting stories.  Most of the attention will be on the contest to fill the empty Taichung 2 seat, so let’s start with that one.  The Taichung 2 district boundaries were drawn specifically for Yen Ching-piao.  His best town, Shalu, was put into Taichung 2 with the rest of his base instead of Taichung 1.  This created a bit of a population imbalance as well as a political imbalance, since the blue camp is quite a bit stronger in Taichung 2 than Taichung 1 and Shalu, where the KMT is particularly strong, exacerbates the difference.[1]  In fact, Taichung 2 is easily the blue camp’s strongest district in the old Taichung County.
I don't give the DPP much of a shot here to win. I think they can best hope to play the better-than-expected card when it's all over.
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