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Saturday, December 09, 2006

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Taiwan Leader’s Party Ekes Out Win - New York Times

The lead gets the story completely wrong. The DPP won a surprising victory. Chen Chu eked a victory in Kaohsiung despite a relatively low turnout (67%) and a strong KMT candidate in Taipei actually lost 100,000 votes in the capital. While Ma remains the candidate to beat in 2008, like Lien Chan in 2004, he no longer looks invincible. Note once again that the polls were wrong as usual and that the Taipei's yammering elite misread the electorate's take on the last six months of political nonsense.

The Times is now calling the KMT the "Nationalist Party." They should go a further step and identify them correctly as the Chinese Nationalist Party.

While Saturday’s vote represented a reprieve of sorts for President Chen, it may have also strengthened the Nationalist Party, which favors closer relations with mainland China. James Soong, a former Nationalist who split with the party and set up a rival party catering to like-minded voters, the People First Party, ran as an independent in the Taipei mayoral race but attracted just 4 percent of the vote.

Soong's ringing defeat simply shows how weak the hardline unificationists really are. Ma has been weakened by this loss because it demonstrates that the KMT still can't croos the Zhuoshui river and because he cannot translate his own popularity into votes for other candidates. The loss weakens the KMT because it will encourage Wang Jyn-ping and the Taiwanese branch of the KMT to leave the party even as the PFP returns to the diminished fold.

Mr. Soong announced after the count that he would leave politics, which could clear the way for the People First Party to combine with the Nationalists, a move the two parties have been negotiating off and on for at least three years.
They have no choice. Half the party had already rejoined the KMT anyway.

Other voters were annoyed by the constant wrangling between the parties. “I don’t think either is very reliable,” said Grace Chen, who brought her six-year-old daughter with her to her neighborhood polling place, in a high school. Ms. Chen said before voting that she supported the Democratic Progressive Party because it seemed more interested in strengthening the economy.

This is Michael's silent majority. I would venture a guess that Ms. Chen's reference to the economy refers to the DPP's refusal (so far) to liberalize investment in China.

Mr. Huang did better in opinion polls than the actual vote, suggesting that he may not have done enough to build a sense of outrage about corruption that would bring voters to polling places, Mr. Yang said. Voter turnout in Kaohsiung, at 67.93 percent of eligible voters, was lower than usual by the standards of Taiwan’s highly participatory democracy.

This is a blatant attempt to spin the results. Yang assumes that outrage exists and that Huang failed to capitalize on it. The truth is that a massive media campaign attempted to create a sense of outrage and failed.


The Democratic Progressive Party candidate, Chen Chu, campaigned on her party’s environmental record, which includes cleaning up the poetically named Love River, which flows through the center of the city.

The Love River is a canal, not a river. This is a small but telling example of the international media's ignorance and failure to understand what they are seeing. This account of the election is fair and accurate in many respects, but this oversight shows how the international media fails to understand what they are seeing when it comes to Taiwan.

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