Which legislative races are key in the Taiwan elections? Where will Taiwan’s political shift impact results, and which districts might see an upset because of divisions within pan-blue or pan-green dividing the vote? Solidarity and C. Donovan Smith give us the list of legislative races to watch this week.
After flirting with a southern run to rally the troops, former Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin 郝龍斌 (KMT) pushed aside local politicians to seize the party’s nomination in this historically blue city this spring. A victory in this “safe” district would be his springboard to becoming the next KMT chairman. However, the blue camp has split, with the PFP’s Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄) and the MKT’s Yang Shih-cheng (楊石城) (a city councilor) running credible campaigns against Hau, and he is in real danger of an embarrassing defeat by young DPP challenger Tsai Shih-ying (蔡適應).
2. Taipei 4
To take this strongly blue district from the KMT, the DPP has crossed the blue-green divide to endorse PFP city councilor Huang Shan-shan (黃珊珊), keeping its own popular city councilor Kao Chia-yu (高嘉瑜) from running, to its consternation. This sacrifice has been key to the PFP declining to cooperate with the KMT in other legislative districts. Will enough DPPers vote for Huang to make the strategy pay off? And how much would she cooperate with the DPP in the Legislature?
3. Taoyuan 1
This is one of the reliably blue districts that flipped dramatically to the DPP in the 2014 mayoral elections, and DPP Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) has been assiduously turning local vote canvassers to the green side since taking office. Can DPP spokesman Cheng Yun-peng (鄭運鵬) confirm times have changed, by unseating KMT incumbent Chen Ken-te (陳根德)?
4. Hsinchu City
Longtime DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) will have the inside track to the speakership if he can win this race, but he’ll first have to protect his base from NPP challenger Handy Chiu (邱顯智) of the NPP. Chiu is running a protest campaign against Ker’s relatively collegial closed-door dealings with KMT speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), and his campaign has been run by Chen Wei-ting (陳為廷), former student protester who was expelled from graduate school because he missed so much class time running this campaign. City Councilor Cheng Cheng-chien (鄭正鈐) of the KMT may pull out a win thanks to this rivalry, but even if he does he may have his election invalidated because of the 1,000-seat, 10,000+ patron banquet he held in public this month, which is being investigated as vote-buying. Further complicating the ballot are relatively anonymous candidates Ou Tsung-ching (歐崇敬) of the PFP, Wei Yang of public employee interest group MCFAP (魏揚), and Lin Chia-yu (林家宇) of the Free Taiwan Party.
5. Taichung 2
38-yr-old KMT incumbent Yan Kuan-hung (顏寬恒) replaced his imprisoned father Yan Ching-piao (顏清標) in a 2013 by-election. The elder Yan is a classic gangster/factional politician, sent to prison multiple times, who also heads the world’s largest Matsu pilgrimage-leading temple, the Dajia Jenn Lann Matsu Temple. Despite his father’s connections, the younger Yan only barely squeaked into office by 1,000 votes. The election is a rematch of 2013 against the same DPP candidate. During 2014’s nine-in-one elections there was a political shift toward DPP with the DPP mayoral candidate winning with nearly 59% of the vote. So, this election could show how fundamental the shift in political identification is, and besides the KMT vote may be split by Chi Kuo-tung (紀國棟) running as an independent after being kicked out last year for openly criticizing the KMT and Hung Hsiu-chu.
6. Taichung 3
Powerful KMT incumbent Yang Chiung-ying (楊瓊瓔) is facing a tough challenge from DPP-endorsed NPP candidate Hung Tzu-yung (洪慈庸), a political neophyte. Hung rose to fame after fighting for justice for her late brother Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘), who died during military service after excessive punishment by his superiors. Her democratic reform-oriented campaign has called to mind the dangwai days and attracted a fair bit of national interest, and it’ll be interesting to see how much that goodwill translates into votes in a district a strong DPP candidate should have been able to win in this environment.
7. Nantou 2
This is a particularly bitter fight with ugly accusations and legal challenges. The DPP’s Tsai Huang-lang (蔡煌瑯) has had six terms before as a legislator and has had legal troubles related to past elections. He is suing his opponent for slander. Hsu Shu-hua (許淑華) is the KMT incumbent and won the seat in a by-election after her predecessor was elected county magistrate in last year’s nine-in-one elections. Her campaign headquarters gives out free lunches every day for roughly 50 homeless locals.
8. Changhua 2
The KMT’s three-term incumbent Lin Tsang-min (林滄敏), is defending one of the districts the KMT absolutely has to keep if it wishes to preserve a legislative majority. However, in last year’s nine-in-one elections Lin ran for county magistrate and was crushed, with the KMT vote dropping below 50% for the first time. DPP candidate Huang Hsiu-fang (黃秀芳) is expected to prevail, particularly given the pan-blue spoiler campaigns of the MKT’s Chang Yao-yuan (張耀元) and the Taiwan Labor Party’s Wen Kuo-ming (溫國銘). The result here will be a great indicator of how the night goes.
9. Pingtung 2
With Kaohsiung 3’s incumbent quitting the campaign a few months ago, this is the KMT’s last bastion in southern Taiwan. Its incumbent Wang Chin-shih (王進士) is putting up a strong fight against DPP challenger Chung Chia-pin (鍾佳濱) in a 2-man race that some predict will go down to the wire.
10. Plains Indigenous
Thanks in large part to the DPP’s historical Minnan-centrism and the KMT’s control of central government resources, the DPP has never performed well in the indigenous district elections. That could finally change this year. Many indigenous voted DPP in the 2014 municipal elections, and odds-makers have given plains indigenous nominee Chen Ying (陳瑩) a decent chance to become the first DPP-nominated indigenous legislator.
Bonus legislative district: Changhua 1
DPP challenger Akira Chen (陳文彬) is an acclaimed movie director, but a political novice. The DPP directly chose Akira Chen over two local factional politicians (who had bolted from the KMT and NPSU to join the DPP in recent elections), without holding an opinion poll first – suggesting a disdain for factional polls. Akira in theory is running a very ideological campaign but did run a billboard equating his opponent to Eric Chu and Ma Ying-jeou – but his opponent just thanked him for the free publicity and countered with a spoof billboard on the hit movie Cape No. 7 called “Cape 700 millions” that equated the DPP with supporting the Chen Shui-bian corruption scandal. This district saw a shift in the nine-in-one elections to light green, too.
(Feature photo from the NPP Hung Tzu-yung 洪慈庸 Campaign Facebook page.)
Solidarity.tw is the owner and author of the eponymous Tumblr blog solidaritytw.tumblr.com, where he translates Taiwan's news media and provides sharp commentary about Taiwan's current affairs.
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