KMT wins Taipei; DPP wins Kaohsiung (Update with video)
For those of you counting on this site to know the results of the Taipei and Kaohsiung elections, Chen Chu won in Kaohsiung by about 1100 votes. Hao Lung-bin won in Taipei by less than 170,000 votes. I was at Frank Hsieh's headquarters tonight and one thing I noticed talking to people from the campaign, was a sense that Hsieh was on his way to winning. Of course, everything depended on James Soong winning enough votes to split the blue camp. In the end, Soong didn't do that well, which meant that Hsieh was unable to make up the gap, though he did better than the DPP candidate did in the last election.
Hsieh's loss was balanced by Chen Chu's win in Kaohsiung. I was in the crowd when the Kaohsiung results appeared on a large screen over a stage. The crowd went mad with excitement. When Hsieh finally walked on the stage after several other speakers who all spoke with intense passion, the crowd all started chanting, "Frank Hsieh for president!" He was obviously moved, but didn't say anything about his intentions. Each time he tried to speak, the crowd kept screaming.
His speech was very moving, not just in the way a politician tries to move a crowd, but as a human being full of emotion. I'm sure Hao Lung-bin and James Soong and all the other candidates and their staffs were all full of emotion. I think it's easy to forgot that these politicians are also human beings. I really think Hsieh thought he was headed for victory; he knew it would be difficult, but he had hope going into this.
There was a poll hanging up inside the headquarters, which showed both Hsieh and Soong with about 20% in the most recent poll. That was the number they were counting on. I saw one of the staff workers later on and he said to me: "We didn't win." He had tears in his eyes. I know the feeling because of my experience volunteering with MoveOn to try to elect Kerry in 2004. I too believed with all of my heart that Kerry would win, that it would be obvious to the American public that Bush was a disaster.
Back to the crowd. There was really an amazing spirit there. It was partly generated by the music and speeches and other age-old political rituals that politicians have mastered, but it also came from the multitudes that made up the crowd. Their hopes were kindled tonight even as their candidate lost one battle.
After Hsieh's speech, the stage filled up with the DPP leadership--Yu Shyi-kun, Su Tseng-chang, Tsai Ing-wen, Ko Chien-ming, and others.
Overall, I think it was a positive experience for the DPP. I had heard several predictions of doom prior to the election, that if the DPP lost both Taipei and Kaohsiung, then it would either be the end for the DPP or at least result in a major re-structuring. The win in Kaohsiung, though small in numbers, was big in effect.
Something else: James Soong (64) is only 4 years older than Frank Hsieh (60) and people are already saying his time has past. Even he announced the end of his political career. Hsieh, on the other hand, still has a political future. A win tonight would have prevented a run for president in 2008. Now, he is one of the DPP's top hopes, and it is unclear that Ma Ying-jeou is indomitable. A bigger loss tonight might have also spelled the end for him.
Well, only time will tell.
[Taiwan politics], [Kaohsiung mayor], [Frank Hsieh], [Chen Chu], [James Soong], [Hau Lung-bin], [Democratic Progressive Party]