First the mea culpa. I was totally wrong on the swing vote, as Forumosa poster Mick stopped by to caustically remind me in a comment that I lost (along with about 12 others in a Blogger error). The swing vote was about twice as big as I thought. More on that in a later post when the CEC gets detailed numbers out.
I'm switching to Wordpress soon. Tired of Blogger.
One thing I've noted in this blog is that the south is not the stronghold of the DPP that people tend to think. One of the analytical articles in the Taipei Times had a nifty blurb on that:
Tsai Chia-hung (蔡佳泓), an associate research fellow at National Chengchi University's Election Study Center, said that it was a myth that the south has traditionally been the stronghold of the DPP, at least not in the 2000 presidential election.
Statistics showed that except for Tainan County, the KMT ticket of former vice president Lien Chan (連戰) and Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) and the independent ticket of James Soong (宋楚瑜) and Chang Chao-hsiung (張昭雄) together garnered more votes in Kaohsiung County, Kaohsiung City, Tainan City and Pingtung County than thee DPP ticket.
In the 2004 presidential election, the ratio between DPP and KMT tickets in the south changed from 4 to 5 to 5 to 4 and in Tainan County from 4 to 5 to 6 to 3.
There was nothing surprising about the KMT winning Kaohsiung -- the city council is Blue dominated, meaning that the local precincts are Blue, meaning that there are lots and lots of Blue voters. The mayoral vote in 2006 was quite tight. It was Tainan city that was the stunner. Talking to people yesterday and today down in Tainan, the response was "the Blue voters are more tightly organized (tuan jie)" and that lots and lots of Greens stayed home. There was great anger at Chen. Amazingly, despite the far worse record of the KMT in the legislature, there was no great anger at the KMT. Go figure....
Some media comments. The China Times discusses how voters chose a globalized Taiwan. The foreign press displayed its usual trends -- Keith Bradsher's backgrounder on Ma Ying-jeou is a hilarious puff piece that completely sanitizes Ma. And just for a historical note, BBC once again quoted Emile Sheng, the pro-KMT commentator, without noting his position.
"But politically, we should not expect too much. The two sides need to build up mutual trust. Improved political relations will not be his first priority." Emile Sheng, professor of political science at Soochow University, agrees.
Ah, the foreign media. As predictable as an annoying friend.....
I'd like to return to something. Anyone remember this from July of 2005:
Ma was widely touted by the media as the favorite, but he was certainly a very odd favorite. When the vote took place, three quarters of the party's legislators, many high-level party officials such as central executive committee head Chang Che-shen and more than 100 retired generals - the KMT is traditionally strong in the military - had thrown their support behind Wang. The party ruled Taiwan, often brutally, for 55 years until losing power in 2000.
And all the stuff about the split between Ma and the southern Taiwanese legislators, the rivalry between Ma and Wang? Nothing. The KMT displayed awesome organizational unity. No criticism of Ma was breathed. At the local level sophisticated party networks knew exactly what was going on -- in our district the KMT reps knew how many votes they'd get -- to the exact vote at one precinct, and within 5 at the other.
People criticized me when I argued that the legislative election produced what would be a permanent majority. Heh -- when in the last 60 years did the KMT not control the legislature? The DPP's problem is that it reigned, but did not rule....
Raj said my description of the future below was too negative. He wanted to know what would happen in the next two-three years. That's simple -- always assuming that the US can prevent the subprime crisis from exploding the world economy, we're going to see a construction and real estate boom here. Construction and related stocks rose in the market on Monday. International capital backed Ma and they are going to want their reward now. Chinese money will also flow in. Many things might block that -- Chinese with $$ might prefer to invest it at home for higher returns -- which many already do, using the same Virgin Islands route that Taiwanese firms do. Or the US economy may implode. Oil prices, Taiwan's clinically insane land use laws....lots of things might turn out to be stumbling blocks.
But I think Ma is going to move fast. The infrastructure spending he has planned to "save" the economy is contingent on obtaining stable supplies of gravel, and there is only one developed source ready and able to supply: China. How China will use that leverage remains to be seen.
Incidentally, that neat little dirty trick the KMT played with former AIT director Doug Paal on Saturday, where they brought Paal in to speak "authoritatively" on the Green Card issue, illuminates some of the connections between international capital and the KMT: Paal is now a vice chairman at JP Morgan.
Unless the DPP completely turns itself around and adopts a totally new and inclusive party vision, engaging in something it has never done -- massive, sincere coalition building -- we're looking at permanent KMT rule. It will take a gargantuan KMT eff-up coupled with a mighty DPP resurgence to prevent a second Ma term. At this point, Ma could be found having sex with a sheep at rush hour on Ketegalen Blvd, and the only consequence would be that women would call the sheep to ask what its secret was...
When did the DPP lose this election? Lots of different times, but for myself, I think it happened back in the 1990s when a party stalwart named Shih Ming-te introduced Chen Shui-bian to a wheeler-dealer with lots of shady connections named Chen Che-nan. The uptake of Chen Che-nan into the A-bian circle meant that the DPP would become like the KMT, tapping into government expenditures to replenish its coffers, instead of maintaining its reformist path. Chen Che-nan's shenanigans would be one of the major scandals of the Chen Administration, even though he was later acquitted. Readers will be able to identify other turning points: when Lee Teng-hui started the TSU instead of bringing those legislators into the DPP, when the DPP blew the 2004 legislative elections due to bad strategy, and when it agreed to a legislative "reform" that was less democratic than the original one....