Search Results for “taiwan "municipal elections" 2010”

Monday, November 29, 2010

JR’s Scientific Taiwan Municipal Elections Analysis

Yes, dear pan-blue reader, the KMT has won the municipal elections – because the China Post and Cindy Sui, apparently a freelance journalist based in Taipei, have said so.

And yes, dear pan-green reader, the DPP has won the municipal elections – because it got a lead of more than 5 per cent over the KMT in the popular vote, even if three out of the five municipalities that voted on Saturday will still be governed by KMT mayors.

Can we get past this discussion now? Great. Then let’s turn to something you will hardly find in the mainstream media: a scientific approach to the election results. Obviously, JR can’t be too comprehensive and has to be choosy. So the following will be Taipei and Kaohsiung City’s mayoral election results of the past twelve years. Think of it as a beginning of JR’s research which will grow gradually.

There’s a nice little data mine online, published by the Central Elections Committee (中央選舉委員會). I hope I’ve copied and calculated them correctly. You can compare it all with the original CEC stats yourselves, through the datamining link mentioned above. So here’s a bit of history…

Taipei & Kaohsiung Mayoral Elections, 1998

Share in popular vote of both cities combined - KMT 50.09%; DPP 46.88%; New Party 2.22%

The New Party, or 新黨, split away from the KMT in 1993, accusing KMT chairman and Taiwanese president Lee Teng-hui (李登辉) of de-emphasizing the KMT’s “pro-unification” [with China] position. It should therefore count as a pan-blue party – probably even more so than the KMT itself at the time, in terms of leaning towards “re-unification”.

A Pan-Blue / Pan-Green count would spell 52.31% : 46.88%.

Taipei & Kaoshiung Mayoral Elections 2002

Share in popular vote of both cities combined - KMT 57.85%; DPP 41.01%

When looking at these numbers, it is hard to see how then president Chen Shui-bian (DPP) would win a second term in 2004 (as he indeed managed to do) – especially when bearing in mind that he would face one rather than two competitors in the 2004 elections. In 2000, Chen had won 39.3 per cent in the presidential elections – the traditional KMT vote had basically been split between the KMT candidate Lien Chan (23.1 %) and independent (but originally KMT) candidate James Soong (36.84%).

Now it will depend on how you want to look at municipal elections: as a rather local affair, or as something indicative for national trends. One can  safely say that Chen Shui-bian’s performance wasn’t rated too postively by the Taiwanese public, in 2002. And as David M. Lampton and Travis Tanner pointed out in a paper for the Nixon Center in 2005, the KMT had strong arguments in the presidential elections two years later:

Frequently during the election campaign, the Pan Blue candidates pointed out that during Chen’s first term in office foreign direct investment (FDI) in Taiwan fell from $7.61 billion in 2000 to $3.58 billion in 2003, Taiwan faced record 5.17 percent unemployment in 2002, and Taiwan suffered its first ever recession in 2001.

Two years after Chen was re-elected after all, there came the 2006 municipal elections:

Taipei & Kaohsiung Mayoral Elections 2006

Share in popular vote of both cities combined - KMT 52.11%; DPP 44.08%; Taiwan Solidarity Union 0.49%; Taiwan Defense Alliance 0.09%

In Taipei, the KMT was down from 64.1 per cent in 2002, to 55.7 per cent in 2006. That however could be attributed to the fact that Hau Lung-pin (or Lung-bin) was the KMT candidate, rather than Ma Ying-jeou, who had been the party’s candidate (and highly popular incumbent mayor) in 2002. In any case, the DPP kept trailing in the mayoral elections in Taipei, and won only narrowly in its Kaohsiung stronghold (by 0.15 per cent on its own – if  TSU and Taiwan Defense Alliance votes would be added to the DPP’s share, the pan-greens in Kaohsiung would have led by a margin of 1.23 per cent over the pan-blues.

Taipei & Kaohsiung Mayoral Elections 2010

Share in popular vote of both cities combined - KMT 37.37%; DPP 48.49%; Independents or others 14.14%

Looks ugly for the KMT in Kaohsiung. Neck-on-neck with the DPP in 2006, and trailing them by 32.27 per cent now.

Things look better for the KMT in Taipei – Hau Lung-pin gains 6.38 percdentage points – but Tsai Ing-wen doesn’t fare badly either, with gains of 2.92, when counting merely the DPP votes of 2006.The DPP’s gains in percentage points are still 2.66 when comparing its 2010 performance with the share in votes of the DPP and the TSU (counts as pan-green) combined, in the 2006 elections.

Some spontaneous conclusions

Voters in the 2002 municipal elections had beef with then president Chen’s DPP because of the troubled economy, but still re-elected Chen in 2004.

The economy looks good at the moment – and the fact that the KMT lost the popular vote by more than five per cent should be a warning to the KMT. The mere fact that president Ma Ying-jeou’s party had to struggle during the campaign period should count as a warning, according to Shen Zewei of Singapore’s Morning Posta commenter who may be seen as leaning toward the KMT. Shen’s article shortly before the elections quoted a Taiwanese academic as saying that the economic data and economic agreements the government keeps publishing hadn’t been converted into the economic benefit of the public.

But his article also quoted an academic who suggested that the DPP, rather than the KMT, now stands for the status quo – the KMT appears to be to close to China, while the DPP keeps its distance.

And the status quo is what comes closest to consensus in Taiwan – or, in Bruce Jacob‘s words,

[r]epeated surveys show that the vast majority of Taiwanese agree on ideology. They value Taiwan’s democracy and they agree that Taiwan should maintain the “status quo,” which means it should remain de facto independent.

If I were Taiwanese and subscribed to this consensus, the idea of president Ma winning a second and last consecutive term in 2012 would probably make me nervous. Convincing the public that he won’t enter political talks with Beijing. Will he be convincing enough? This is probably Ma’s greatest challenge – as for the economic outlook, Beijing will probably throw him as many lifelines as he’ll need.

For the DPP, the challenge is different. On the one hand, too much emphasis on having Taiwan’s independence internationally recognized may be seen as “radical” by a crucial share of voters. On the other hand, as the above charts are showing, splits through political camps are nothing unfamiliar in the history of Taiwan’s democracy. The DPP will have to keep its core activists assured, too.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Taiwan Municipal Elections: Punching the Cotton

The following is an extractive account of an article which appeared in Singapore’s United Morning Post (联合早报) on Friday, asking why the outcome of Saturday’s Municipal Elections in Taiwan appears to be rather  unpredictable, despite national economic data that – one might believe – should put local candidates of president Ma Ying-jeou‘s KMT in a very favorable position.

Although the municipal elections are naturally local elections,  to be held in five municipalities – Taipei City, Xinbei City, Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung -, they may provide clues for president Ma’s chances to win a second term in presidential elections in 2012 (or even just to get nominated by his party again). The electorate in the five cities make up almost 65 percent of Taiwan’s total population of 23 million.

Many of Morning News’ articles don’t seem to last on the internet. If you want to read the original article in Chinese and can’t get there through this link, drop me a line – -, and I’ll mail it to you.


Shen Zewei (沈泽玮), in an article for Singapore’s Morning Post, addresses a question about Taiwan’s municipal elections (to be conducted on Saturday, November 27) which probably preoccupies China’s leadership, too: Why don’t GDP growth by 9.98 per cent and an unemployment rate less than five per cent make the outcome of the elections a predictable success for Taiwan’s ruling KMT government?

Shen quotes Tung Chen-yuan (童振源), professor at the National Chengchi University as saying that a key to explaining the KMT’s current struggling is that the economic data and economic agreements the government keeps publishing hadn’t been converted into the economic benefit of the public (所有政府亮出的经济数据和经济协议都无法转换成民众感受到的经济效益). For one, much of the recent surge in GDP was due to the fact that growth had been so low one year earlier (thus making the discrepancy between growth last and this year so big), and more importantly, there was resentment at worsening disparities in income distribution. The income of the younger workforce was stagnating. What contributed to the current low unemployment rate were government programs for helping people finding employment – but only for temporary jobs. The oppositional Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) had kept avoiding the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) and cross-strait relations as topics during the municipal elections campaigns, and the KMT’s fists therefore only found cotton to punch into (民进党在这次选举中采取了回避ECFA和两岸议题的战略,固然让国民党的拳头都打到棉花上).

More critically however, ECFA was really only a framework so far, without substantial content – it would only become a plus for the KMT if it added more content, which in turn meant another round of complicated negotiations between Taipei and Beijing. To obtain concessions from Beijing, the Ma government would have to open up Taiwan’s markets  further to China, which would lead to dissatisfaction among the Taiwanese. Disappointment among many pan-blue supporters was, in addition, leading to problems in mobilizing them to vote.

Last but not least, Shih Chih-yu (石之瑜), a professor with the National Taiwan University’s Department of Political Science, is quoted as pointing out that the oppositional DPP was now seen as the party that would rather maintain the status quo, while the KMT was more likely to change the Taiwan’s status [into the direction of “uniting with China”, rather than towards independence, of course – JR]. Voters who preferred the status quo would rather support the DPP now. The fact that economic concessions hadn’t improved Taiwanese feelings toward mainland China (大陆) but rather made them fear that the KMT was tilting towards Beijing, was certainly worth Beijing’s attention. And Tung Chen-yuan [see second paragraph] points to a growing sense of a Taiwanese identity, and growing public support for maintaining the status quo in relations with China. The Ma government therefore needed to amend or complete its strategy concerning contacts with Beijing.

No matter what the results of the elections on Saturday were going to be, the mere fact that the KMT candidates had to struggle in their campaigns were “no small warning” to the party.


Taiwan News Roundup: “In just Three Seconds”, October 8, 2010
Taiwan, ECFA, and the Traitorama, June 29, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lee Teng-hui: Sovereignty matters in Municipal Elections

While Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairwoman and DPP candidate for mayorship of Sinbei City (新北市) Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) told Taiwan’s Apple Daily edition in September that the municipal elections – to be held on November 27 this year – were about dealing with local issues, former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) pointed out in an interview on Thursday night that the municipal elections, if won by the DPP, could prompt the KMT to review president Ma Ying-jeou‘s nomination for a second presidential election. In short, the municipal elections’ theme, in Lee Teng-hui’s view, are about “abandoning Ma, protecting Taiwan” (棄馬保台, qì Mǎ bǎo Tái).

The report by the Liberty Times also quotes Lee as saying that the 1992 Consensus (九二共識) advanced by Ma didn’t actually exist (根本不存在). Lee reportedly also  alleged that Ma’s concept was “ultimate unification” and that the president had simply referred to himself as “Mr” during a visit by China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Chen Yunlin, not daring to adhere to his presidential title (陳雲林來台時馬自稱為「先生」,不敢堅持總統的正式稱謂).

According to Wikipedia as of November 18 (apparently quoting a Liberty Times edition of the time as a source),

the Chen visit was seen as a test for Ma’s commitment to keep Taiwan a sovereign nation, and many critics have reason to believe he [Ma Ying-jeou] failed dismally. First, national flags were ordered to be taken away in all places that Chen set foot on. Footage of an officer violently breaking a flag on a highway overhead was disclosed by the media and shocked the society. Citizens carrying national flags were also brutally treated by the police, while pro-China extremists carrying the Chinese national flag were given upmost protection. Second, Ma allowed Chen to refer to him as “you” or “Mr. Ma,” but with no mention of the term “president,” and did not mention the words “president” or “country.” Third, Ma ordered massive crackdowns on peaceful protestors, including students, senior citizens, and women, leading to the most violent police assault since Taiwan embraced full democracy.

Referring to an apparent refusal by the Ma administration to provide a car for former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe‘s meetings with oppositional DPP’s officials earlier this month, Lee said that when Abe paid him a visit, also earlier this month, Taiwan’s foreign ministry hadn’t provided the former Japanese premier with a car either.


More posts referring to Chen Yunlin
“Any title but President”, China Post, Nov. 1, 2008

Update / Related
What is the ROC, Frozen Garlic, Aug. 31, 2010

Friday, October 8, 2010

Taiwan News Roundup: “in Just Three Seconds”

Municipal Elections in November

Taiwan’s municipal elections will be held on November 27 – Wikipedia provides some opinion polls and results of past elections (last updated on October 3). Echo Taiwan shows the seats and offices up for grabs, and the respective numbers of contestants, plus a schedule.

A Gu commented more than a week ago on an interview which DPP chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) had given to Taiwan’s edition of Apple Daily earlier in September.

The municipal elections were about dealing with local issues, Apple Daily quotes Tsai. As for national issues, views within the DPP had also become more unified (內部意見也趨於一致), after profound reflection following the election defeats in 2008 (民進黨失去政權後,是有深刻反省的). Tsai is directly quoted as saying that

Awareness of political ideals is one thing; stability is another – the most important thing in cross-strait relations is stability (體認政治取向是一回事,穩定又是一回事,兩岸最重要的是穩定。)

Tsai currently doubles as the DPP’s chairwoman, and as her party’s candidate for mayorship of Sinbei City (新北市). Sinbei  [aka Xinbei] used to be Taipei County before a re-organization of Taiwan’s administrative divisions.

A Gu is critical of Tsai’s remarks, although

I sense she’s responding to the tendency of the ever-important moderate voter; I also note she wasn’t terribly specific.

Fan Liqing (范麗青), China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) spokeswoman, probably couldn’t agree more, but would certainly see the supposed election context of Tsai’s remarks in a much less friendly light. On a press conference on September 29, she said that

I have seen the coverage, I don’t know if this is election language (看到了有關報導,不知道這是不是選舉語言),

adding that the peaceful development of cross-strait relations was based on “opposing Taiwan independence” and “upholding the 92 consensus“.


FTAs: “Keep Taiwan’s Interests in Mind”

Meantime, Dixteel argues that while signing free-trade agreements (FTA) with further countries (after establishing ECFA with China earlier this year) can be feneficial, FTAs shouldn’t be signed for FTAs sake.

I am not saying signing FTA with Singapore is a bad thing, but Taiwan needs to have a Taiwan centric thinking when signing this deal.  Otherwise, this type of deals will only be a tool of pro-China politicians and a waste of time and money, because they will not be negotiated with Taiwan’s interests in mind.

The Straits Times (Singapore), advocating the FTA, suggested on September 15 that Singapore’s and Taiwan’s economies could be a lot more complementary than meets the eye.


KMT Government Approval Ratings: give me just three seconds

As various polls have shown disappointment with [Tawain’s] cabinet’s performance, Executive Yuan president Wu Dun-yih (吳敦義) is quoted by Channel Asia as saying that “every cabinet member has room to improve and we will do it. If President Ma (Ying-jeou) thinks I should fine tune it, I could do it in just three seconds.”

Writing this post took a bit longer.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

DPP Nomination Process: Needed Virtues

Unassuming, but with the power to lead: Tsai Ing-wen

Unassuming, but with the power to lead: Tsai Ing-wen (Source: WIKIMEDIA, click on photo).

All we can say today is that, next year, the Taiwanese will have the opportunity to elect a new parliament (Legislative Yuan), and, a few months later, a new president.

Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) chairwoman, is also the party’s most likely presidential candidate – but the race for the nomination has only started. Former vice-president Anette Lu (呂秀蓮) announced her intention to run for president on Friday.

Tsai met a – probably more serious than Lu – rival in the race for nomination on Sunday. A discussion with former premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) who, as had Anette Lu, served in former president Chen Shui-bian‘s administration, reportedly centered around a potential struggle within the party resulting from the upcoming presidential primary, a concern which, according to DPP spokesperson Cheng Wen-tsang, had been expressed by many pan-green supporters.

The primaries’ deadline is scheduled on May 4 this year – or earlier, in late April.

If Echo Taiwan‘s references to Anette Lu’s recent statements are correct, the former vice president is unpacking campaigning material of a kind that has offended the Taiwanese public before, for its uselessness in practical politics, and its ludicrous hatemongering.  It would show that Lu stands for many of the things that cost the DPP the presidency in the 2008 elections, and it would suggest that it will cost the party any real chance to replace incumbent president Ma Ying-jeou (KMT) next year.

Whoever is going to lead the DPP into the presidential elections – and legislative elections – of 2012, he or she will need to rely on the party, and the party will have to stand united. Both Su Tseng-chang and Tsai Ing-wen appear to be candidates with the potential to rally the party behind themselves. They should avoid damaging each other in the run-up to the nomination in May this year.

Personally, and from my perspective as an outsider, Tsai Ing-wen would appear to be the ideal candidate. She lost the municipal elections in Xinbei in November last year, but led over president Ma Ying-jeou in opinion polls only a week later. Also under her leadership, the DPP did well overall in the municipal elections, which had been held in five municipalities simultaneously, with an overall vote of almost 50 per cent, compared to 44.5 per cent for the KMT.

But what impressed me most, and turned me into a fan of the Mrs Tsai, was her concession speech after the municipal elections, on November 27 last year. She managed to make it both a concession, and a new starting point. In her speech, she spelled out the election campaign strategy she and her fellow DPP candidates had leant on during their campaigns, which focused on the electorate, rather than on blind ideology.

If she herself believes that she can lead Taiwan, she will probably be right – because so far, her judgment has looked convincing, and chances are that no vanity is blinding her judgment.

Chances are that this is exactly what the public wants: politics, rather than showbiz.


Diplomatic Rock-Bottom: Taiwan’s Stalker-in-Chief, Youtube, 2006

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Presidential Elections 2012: there are Rules

Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), Taiwan’s first democratically-elected president from 1996 to 1999, and KMT-appointed president from 1988 to 1996, recently had a discussion with Japanese professor Nakajima Mineo of Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (and/or Akita International University). Japan’s news magazine WiLL drew on, or published what was said to have been their converstation, in its latest publication, on Thursday.

Lee will be 87 on January 15, and Nakajima Mineo was born in 1933. They are no strangers to each other – they wrote a book on democracy and Asian values together, “The Wisdom of Asia” (亞洲的智略), published in 2000. With that book, Lee, for the first time, stated that the Republic of China on Taiwan had left the era of the two Chiangs (Chiang Kai-shek and Chiang Ching-kuo), and had transformed itself into the concept of a Second Republic (蛻變為「第二共和」的構想)*). Both revisions of the RoC constitutions since 1991, and changes in the structure of government, had constituted the Second Republic.

Lee is an active agent of his presidential legacy, an important policy of which had been to widen Taiwan’s international leeway, and to define Taiwan-Chinese relations as state-to-state relations. He is frequently in the news – shortly before the municipal elections of November last year, he advised the electorate to use the elections as an opportunity to “abandon [incumbent president] Ma” and to thus “protect Taiwan” (棄馬保台, qì Mǎ bǎo Tái), a message which conflicted to quite a degree with opposition DPP leaders’ approach which was focused on local, i. e. municipal, rather than foreign issues, or on Taiwan identity matters.

DPP chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) reaffirmed this approach as she spoke to supporters of her candicacy for Xinbei mayorship, after losing the campaign to KMT candidate Eric Chu.

That’s what makes the alleged content of Lee’s discussion with Prof. Mineo a sensitive issue. According to the WiLL publication, Lee suggested that while Tsai was outstanding (民進黨主席蔡英文很優秀), it was yet too early for her to become  president (但要當總統的話,時機尚早), and that a third force for emphasizing Taiwaneseness should draw Taiwan-conscious forces both from the DPP and the KMT  to provide a Taiwan- rather than China-focused new president with a majority of his or her own in parliament (Legislative Yuan).

Lee denied this and other quotes on Friday, in a statement on his facebook page. If his facebook statement is believed or not may depend on how people view him. The elder statesman may have come across as somewhat unstatesmanlike, i. e. rather spiteful, in recent years.

Either way, according to Lee’s facebook statement as quoted by the Taipei Times, he believed that

it did not matter how the presidential and vice presidential candidates are chosen or whether political parties cooperate in the presidential election next year.  “For the battle in 2012, pro–localization forces should unite and take over power with an absolute majority so we can continue reform, promote Taiwan consciousness and pursue Taiwan’s normalization.”

This advice carries some weight. The results of the municipal elections last November, where almost 65 per cent of Taiwan’s population casted their vote (or were eligible – I didn’t find a clear definition in last year’s coverage), don’t suggest that either of the main political parties – the incumbent KMT and the oppositional DPP – will “crush” the other in elections any time, soon. A president will be elected in 2012, but if he or she will have a majority in parliament is a different question. Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) of the DPP never had a majority in the Legislative Yuan, which may explain some of the shortcomings of his presidency.

Lee’s facebook statement – in different words and much more vaguely than in the WiLL quotes – would still mirror a concern WiLL quoted him with – that Tsai might risk repeating the mistakes of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and would be unable to carry out policies in a minority government if she ran for president next year.

That said, the DPP would still be much more likely to draw an absolute parliamentary majority by itself, than a “third force” would be.

It’s hard to tell how many personal and political animosities may play a role here  – either way, DPP spokesman Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) reportedly thanked Lee for giving his views, but only after saying that Cheng said that the DPP would follow its schedule to choose the most electable Presidential candidate.


*), on January 8, 2011


Lee’s Second Republic, Chen’s Second Republic, China Post, Oct 18, 2006

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cross-Strait Relations: Enjoy your Work

The Taiwan Affairs Office of China’s State Council (TAO) implements policies toward Taiwan as the State Council (or, in effect, the CCP’s politburo) prescribes them. They – semi-officially – prepare negotiations with Taiwan’s government (or authorities, as referred to in China). Their counterpart is the Straits Exchange Foundation in Taiwan.

As far as it is up to the TAO, Taiwan’s November 27 municipal elections won’t change anything:

After the municipal elections in Taiwan, the TAO issued this notice:

Xinhua Net, Beijing, November 28 – TAO spokeswoman Fan Liqing replied to a question, that we are paying close attention to Taiwan’s five municipal elections and hope that Taiwanese society will be peaceful and stable, that the people will live in peace and enjoy their work. Over the past more than two years, the improvement and development of cross-strait relations have brought tangible benefits for the compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, and support for the peaceful development of cross-strait relations has become consensus for the compatriots on both sides. We will continue our joint efforts with all Taiwanese circles, continuously broaden broaden and deepen cross-strait exchange and cooperation, steadily promote the development of cross-strait relations, and further the happiness and welfare of the compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
新华网北京11月28日电 国务院台湾事务办公室发言人范丽青11月28日应询表示,我们关注台湾五个城市的选举结果,希望台湾社会安定、人民安居乐业。两年多来,两岸关系改善和发展给两岸同胞带来了实实在在的利益,支持两岸关系和平发展已经成为两岸同胞的共识。我们将继续与台湾各界共同努力,不断扩大和深化两岸交流合作,稳步推进两岸关系发展,增进两岸同胞的福祉。

They “will continue”. But what does “joint efforts with all Taiwanese circles” amount to? Would that  include the DPP?

An editorial, published by the Taipei Times on Tuesday, would – even if with some big footnotes – suggest that the DPP itself wouldn’t turn a deaf ear to an invitation to “joint efforts” – joint efforts for a better mutual understanding, that is:

Recent speculation that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was becoming more amenable to talks with Chinese officials rang truer last week when DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) announced the creation of a party think tank which, among other duties, would encourage mutual understanding across the Taiwan Strait through dialogue.

Rumor even has it that the DPP recently allowed Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials to enter its sacred ground — party headquarters in Taipei.

Pretty much for sure, the Taiwan Brain Trust allowed Chinese scholars in  to watch and discuss the municipal election campaigns. Liu Shih-chung (刘世忠), a research fellow with the thinktank, and once an adviser to former president Chen Shui-bian, told an Atlantic Council audience that

before the elections, as a thinktank and as researchers, we have had a lot of conversations with Chinese scholars. China sent a lot of scholars to Taiwan to monitor the elections. And in our conversation, most Chinese scholars agreed that it isn’t about seats that each party can get from Saturday’s elections. It is more about the vote each party can get, and they agreed that the DPP as the opposition had better chances to get more votes than the KMT. *)

So there is some preparedness both on the part of China and the DPP to talk.

The Taipei Times editorial points out that

it is too early for optimism, as this isn’t the first time the DPP has been willing to talk (which should not be confused with having political negotiations) with China. Soon after entering office in 2000, the Chen administration sent feelers to Beijing, only for possible exchanges to be aborted after Beijing imposed preconditions such as the “one China” principle and the abandonment of the party’s independence clause.
There is no knowing whether similar caveats would be imposed this time around, but there is a major difference between then and now: The KMT seems to have discredited itself in Beijing’s eyes.

That a (possible) DPP president, from 2012, may find it easier to work with China is something Liu Shih-chung believes, too. But he cautions that

Just as Jiang Zemin did back in 2000 / 2001. One of the reasons why, despite the former DPP president, Chen Shui-bian, tried to send a lot of good will across the strait to the other side, I think, in 2000 / 2001, and the Chinese refused to take that is because Jiang Zemin was about to pass his torch to Hu Jintao. There was no way for Jiang Zemin to leave his legacy, or for Hu Jintao to take over, to react .. to Chen Shui-bian’s good will. Something might happen in 2012, assuming that the new DPP president continue to send good will to the other side, and that the new Chinese leadership may take some time to watch his or her words and deeds.*)

That said, the KMT is hardly “discredited”. The municipal elections were a setback or a warning – on that much much of the regional press seem to agree to. But it was no crushing defeat – and at least some CCP leaders will be aware that Taiwan was governed by a DPP president before Ma Ying-jeou was elected. In the view of David Brown, also on the Atlantic Council panel on December 1, the Chinese will be in no rush to push political talks with Taiwan:

They will continue, in my mind, to focus on the economic side, and as Shih-chung conveyed the impression that Beijing will be pushing Ma Ying-jeou to move into the political area of maybe getting into cross-strait confidence-building measures […] my perception is that Beijing was pushing rather hard on that in late 2009 and early 2010, but that since then they have backed off and talked about building mutual trust. That’s what they are going to be working on in the next period of years. They will focus on the economics, focus on cross-strait cultural issues and things like that, and, in my mind, not push Ma precisely because they realize that if they do that, he is going to have to take positions domestically which will cost him support. *)

Is the KMT “discredited” with Beijing? It will likely remain the negotiation partner of choice for the Chinese leadership – the way negotiations between Taipei and Beijing are going to continue should provide some evidence for that in that Beijing will do what it can to keep Ma Ying-jeou in power in Taiwan.

But probably, the CCP will also prepare itself for new partners after the 2012 elections – just in case that the Taiwanese people should indeed vote the DPP back into power. The transitional period the CCP itself will be in during 2012 won’t necessarily be helpful. When Chen Shui-bian sent feelers to Beijing, only for possible exchanges to be aborted , Beijing was in a similar transition of leadership, from Jiang Zemin‘s “generation” to Hu Jintao‘s – but history doesn’t need to repeat itself, so long as political issues keep lingering backstage.



*) The Atlantic Council hosted a panel to review and analyze Taiwan’s upcoming domestic elections and their implications for cross-Strait, U.S.-Taiwan, and Sino-American relations on December 1. It can currently be downloaded from the linked webpage. Towards the end, Taiwan’s long-term options are also discussed in some detail.

File duration about 1 hour, 38 minutes.


Investment Protection Agreement Delayed, Focus Taiwan, Dec 2, 2010
Tsai Ing-wen: the Turning Point, November 27, 2010
ARATS, Wikipedia

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Tsai Ing-wen: the Turning Point (台灣政治的新起點)

Tsai Ing-wen, Xinbei speech, November 27, 2010

Tsai Ing-wen, November 27 (click on this picture for Youtube video)


These six month of campaigning in Xinbei City have been the proudest time of my life. The citizens of Xinbei have turned me from a university professor, a member of the elite, into a politician close to the people, who could naturally interact with the people, love the people, and feel the feelings of the people. I really want to thank the citizens of Xinbei, thank you.”



I hope you will grow in strength, and I hope that the Democratic Progressive Party will grow in strength. We must be strong citizens, strong Taiwanese, with strong political parties, because this country is a country with great difficulties, with many challenges. Each one of us needs to be strong, each of us needs to believe in himself, in Taiwan, and in democracy.


We conducted a campaign with political content. We have compelled the KMT to follow up on policies with far-reaching implications for Taiwan’s society, such as public welfare, housing, and urban redevelopment, of which Taiwanese society is in urgent need. We hope that we have expressed these amply in this campaign, we also hope that the KMT, the party now in power, will take these issues seriously, and that it will address the problems Taiwan’s society is facing.


I would like to tell everyone that in these elections, we have all played our part. We haven’t conducted an excited, a blue-vs-green campaign, but a campaign of political views, with a vision, and with passion, and in this campaign, we have all grown up.


Many, many people have invested into this campaign, including small  contributions […], and it may be the first time in the history of elections in Taiwan that so many people contributed small amounts to one campaign of one nominee. We also made thorough use of the internet to have a dialogue with young people, and there have been the efforts of many, many volunteers, helping us to start a new, fresh, unburdened way of campaigning which we want to continue with confidence. As I said, we haven’t lapsed into the pattern of a blue-green showdown, and not even been unto the shadows of ethnic antagonism. We have striven for the spirit of citizen participation, to find a consensus everyone could agree to.


I believe that this is a new turning point for Taiwanese politics. I said that I wanted to create a new political culture in Taiwan. I believe we have done that in this election campaign, with our supporters. Thank you all for sticking to the campaign, for staying with us, for your efforts for our promise. It doesn’t matter that we weren’t successful this time. We will be back, and if we still wouldn’t be successful, we will be back again, and one day, we will succeed. Thank you all.



Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), Xinbei mayoral candidate in the 2010 Municipal Elections and chairwoman of the Democratic Progressive Party (民主進步黨, DPP), thanking her supporters in Xinbei on November 27, 2010

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