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Sunday, December 10, 2006

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OPEN THREAD--And two questions

I don't know how well this will work, but it would be great if we could get a discussion going here, with some more people (you lurkers know who you are) commenting. What's on your mind? What Taiwan-related issues are you thinking about? How do you interpret the recent municipal elections? Well those are not the questions I mentioned in the title. My two questions for all you Taiwan-watchers and livers (I don't mean the organ) out there are:

1. What distinguishes the different DPP factions? What are their major issues of disagreement?

2. How do you think the new electoral rules will effect next years legislative elections? National Chengchi University Sociology Professor Ku Chung-hwa says in Sundays Taipei Times that they will benefit the KMT. Do you agree?

9 Comments:

At 1:02 AM, Anonymous Floating Cloud said...

As a Taiwanese living in SA, last year was the first time in 11 years that I went back.
I am going back there in a few days for holiday again. :)

This a side, to answer you 2 Questions:
1) I don't know.

2)the new electoral system, in my opinion, would favour the KMT , as the new system favours organised structured localised party.

In This case the KMT, with the 50 years experience of ruling Taiwan, with all the power all interwined into TW's socail and political system, it is very likely, the party to beat in the new system.

( Sad to say it , but it is the most likely situation.As seen for the local parliement elections that just completed in TPE and KS yesterday.)

 
At 7:48 AM, Anonymous wulingren said...

Floating cloud, thanks for the helpful comments. I wonder what happens then. What can the DPP do to counter this?

 
At 10:26 AM, Blogger Taiwan Echo said...

What can the DPP do to counter this?

Basically, I don't think DPP can do anything to win. That's why the new rules (about the legislative elections) are called "suicidal rules" by some pan-green supporters.

My understanding about the new rules is, it decides the number of lawmakers by districts, but not by population sizes.

For example, areas with only small population, like those remote islands, will elect one legislator each, but some districts in Taiwan island, even they have as many as 10 or even 100 times more population,
would elect only one too. That means, evey citizen in those remote islands would share 10 or 100 more times of political power than those in big districts.

Without a doubt, those citizens in remote islands, especially those close to China thus have deeper links with China than with Taiwan, will never vote for pan-green.

Besides, some remote areas deep in Taiwan island, especially those remote forests where aborigines reside, where the relatively-new DPP (compared to KMT) hasn't been able to reach, are areas with diluted population that are extremely lawyal to KMT.

So, in areas like those, pan-green have no chance at all. In elections that are extremely competitive between two sides and the victory is determined only by a slim edge, like what often happened recent years, it is already hard for pan-green to win even when the rules are reasonable. Now the new rules have given pan-blue a huge edge. Pan-green has lost some portion of the cake even before the campaign starts.

In my personal opinion, the making of this law must be a conspiracy coming from pan-blue's consulting team, to guarantee the victory of pan-blue in the feature elections. Certainly, they "honeyed" it with the name of "re-design the legislative system", therefore, besides the ensured feature victories, they also bear the name of innovation on Legislative Yuan, which is a one-stone-for two-birds.

But, why did pan-green lawmakers went along with it? I really have no idea.

I would say, they are either morons, or someone who thinks that pleasing pan-blue would get themselves political edges, like sharing the names of innovation. Or even worse, they could be a pan-blue sympathesizers deep down.

Anyway, IMHO, pan-green can't do anything to win the legislator elections next year, unless they fix the vote.

 
At 11:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Taiwan Echo,

Thanks for the excellent (even if) pessimistic analysis of the situation. It does make one wonder why pan-green lawmakers went along with it. Are there any green lawmaker readers out there who would like to comment on this? Perhaps, the KMT did such a good job of framing the debate around the question of reform that the DPP and allies were afraid of being viewed as anti-reform.

 
At 11:06 PM, Anonymous David said...

Guys,

You're barking down the wrong tree here. To quote from the Constitution, members "shall be elected in proportion to the population of each Special Municipality, county, or city, which shall be divided into electoral constituencies equal in number to the number of members to be elected."

So it's as balanced as it can be within the existing county/city boundaries. The only obvious problem with this is the islands of Jinmen, Matsu & Penghu are each in different counties - and so get 1 legislator each (when 1 between them would be fairer based on population). But they got 1 legislator each with the previous rules too - and short of abolishing Fujian province (which might upset a certain large country), there's not much that could have been done about that. And it was the DPP who dragged the KMT kicking and screaming to this reform.

As to whether the system favours DPP or KMT - the answer is clearly yes. It favours them both over the smaller parties (TSU & PFP).

In my mind, the new rules are a huge improvement - consider this: 1 legislator in Taoyuan was elected with ~4% of the vote last time. 4%! How can you claim to represent your area when less than 1 in 20 actually voted for you? Morevover, the old rules encouraged extremism (Just do *anything* to get noticed ... as long as your name is regularly in the paper you can expect a decent fraction of people to vote for you ... e.g. Li Ao)

As to what the DPP (or indeed the KMT) can do to take advantage of the new system, how about this:
1) Develop some sensible policies
2) Govern the country competently between now and the election
3) Find some intelligent people to stand for election
4) Leave the fistfights, ridiculous behaviour and idiocy to the other side.

David.

 
At 11:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

David,

I'm not barking; I just asked for comments on the issue, since one scholar said the rules would favor the KMT. So, I wanted to see what kind of views their are on the subject. Still, thanks for the input and some great points.

 
At 3:43 AM, Blogger Taiwan Echo said...

David,

Thanks for the clarificaiton. I have been hoping I was wrong about this, and your post does help. Obviously I was misled by the what I read (phew, what a shame). Actually I came check this thread every day but didn't see much discussion, so I guess that I would just say something in my mind ...

 
At 3:45 AM, Blogger Taiwan Echo said...

By the way, David, did they make that into the Constitution? I thought that the new rules are just some "election rules".

 
At 7:47 PM, Anonymous David said...

Hi Taiwan Echo,

Yes - those changes are now in the Constitution. However, the rules on how the districts within cities/counties are set up (e.g. how to create the ~8 separate districts within Taipei County) is not. Those rules have been drawn up by the CEC - but have yet to be ratified by the Legislature (well, *that's* a surprise). There could be a bit gerrymandering with this - which is why the LY can't agree on it.

Incidentally, I didn't properly answer the two original questions. So here goes:
1) DPP Factions. Of course, they've all been disbanded ... so they don't exist! However, on the offchance that abolishing them didn't remove their influence, Jason did a good overview of them from a year ago:
http://wanderingtotamshui.blogspot.com/2005/08/just-factions-maam-competing-groups.html

2) Effect of new Legislative election rules. I think it's a bit silly to say it benefits either of the two big parties more - it's a question of who adapts their policies/strategy best to the new system. Two particularly important changes:
* The old system required very good internal cooperation and organisation: Choosing the correct number of candidates, getting the electorate to spread their votes amongst your candidates and coordinating with your allies (i.e. with the TSU for the DPP) were vital. The DPP had been very good at this - but cocked it up a bit in the latest LY election. That's now all gone, and the only issue is coordinating with your ally. If (as seems likely) the TSU put up their own candidates but the PFP doesn't, then it's advantage KMT. Reverse that, and it's advantage DPP.
2) The winning strategy is one which grabs the middle-of-the-road voters. Previously you could have a mixture of moderates and extremists to cover your bases. This time, I suspect there will be many cases where a deep Green/Blue loses out to his more moderate Blue/Green rival - every candidate needs to appeal to moderate voters (while still getting the hardcore out to vote) nowadays. Given that a large fraction of the more influential (within their party) legislators on both sides are what I would call 'extreme' this is going to be an interesting challenge for both parties.

Incidentally, the above is a reason why I'm very positive about the changed rules for the election. I do think(hope) that it'll result in more moderate legislators.

 

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