Thoughts on the Taipei Mayoral Race
For once there is a halfway interesting discussion over on Forumosa's Taiwan Politics about the Taipei mayoral race and James Soong's decision to enter it. cctang, the inveterate but at least informed, apologist for the Beijing regime, asks why the KMT and Ma don't step aside and make room for Soong? The reasoning behind this rhetorical question is if Soong ran, Ma will be able to avoid taking responsibility and possibly stepping down if something goes wrong in Taipei and Frank Hsieh wins.
As I see it, Ma needs to stand up to Soong and put him and his ridiculous party out to pasture before they do any more damage to the Blue cause. Hau is a strong candidate who will probably do a good job if elected. Despite his Dad, Hau seems to be a pragmatic moderate who has impressed me with his willingness to bracket identity issues so that Taipei's many other problems can be dealt with. He's also clean, well-educated, relatively young and principled. He'll make an excellent mayor despite my prejudices against him because of who his old man is.
The DPP candidate Frank Hsieh is running a strong campaign. He's a Taiwanese Taipei native who is very comfortable with retail politicking unlike Hau. Thanks to the Shih Ming-teh and the Red Shirts, he's made real gains on Hau. The deep blue voters are going to drop Soong and vote for Hau en masse at the last minute, putting old James out of his misery. Ma knows this and he is calling Soong's bluff.
The most plausible reason I've seen put forth for Soong's candidacy is that he trying to wangle a few safe seats for the PFP in the next legislative elections from the KMT. By standing up to Soong now, Ma can look like he has a little backbone for once and do what has to be done so that he can concentrate on driving Wang Jyn-ping, his real enemy in the KMT, out of the party so that Wang can attempt to forge a centrist ethnic Taiwanese campaign with the blessings of Lee Teng-hui thereby splitting the Greens. Problem for Wang is that Su Tseng-chang has so far managed to make being premier an asset rather than a liability (as it was for his two hapless predecessors Yu and Hsieh).