Before the January 16 national elections in Taiwan, we picked 11 races for district legislators as indicators of the election as a whole. The 11 districts we previewed (ten plus one bonus district) ended up evenly matched, with the DPP winning six of the available seats, the KMT six, and the NPP one (KMT’s 6: Taipei 4, Taichung 2, Nantou 2, Changhua 1, Plains Indigenous, Plains Indigenous; DPP’s 6: Keelung, Taoyuan 1, Hsinchu City, Changhua 2, Pingtung 2, Plains Indigenous; and NPP’s 1: Taichung 3). The plains indigenous race was for 3 seats, as it is a multi-member district.

The results are a snapshot of the trends in the elections as a whole. As the overall results showed, the DPP overwhelmingly took the election, where the DPP and its allies performed better almost everywhere throughout the country. The most interesting phenomena in our districts to watch, however, are the number of split tickets, where voters voted for different parties between presidential and parliamentary ballots, and the drama caused by multiple candidates drawing from the same support base, allowing an opposing candidate to win with the highest number of votes.

Voting for the president, but not his or her party’s legislator

In the 2012 races, most KMT and DPP legislative candidates ran pretty closely in line with the fundamental support for their camps, which can be estimated from the support for their presidential candidates and party lists.[1] Ma and Soong combined to win a few more points than the blue party lists, and Tsai won a few more points than the green party lists. Some KMT incumbents ran ahead of their “fundamental” support, but not enough to call it a major trend.

This time, however, some KMT incumbents, especially in central Taiwan, ran far ahead of not only Chu and the KMT, but the entire combined blue camp. The math indicates that in head-to-head blue-green races, Soong’s voters cast their ballots for the KMT and not the DPP legislative candidates. Not only that, some KMT candidates won votes from people who supported Tsai and green party lists in the national races.

In Taichung District 2 (#5 on List) Yen Kuan-heng (顏寬恒) won a district where Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) had 55% of the vote and green party lists 53%. Although there was a third candidate in the district keeping Yen’s support at 47%, that candidate was a renegade former KMT member whose candidacy had been expected to help the DPP. Hsu Shu-hua (許淑華) in Nantou 2 (#7 on List) won 57% in a district where Tsai won 53% and the green party lists 50%. Likewise, Wang Hui-mei (王惠美) of Changhua 1 (Bonus District on List) got 56% despite Tsai winning 57% and the green party lists 55% in her district. Though Wang Chin-shih (王進士) of Pingtung 2 (#9 on List) lost, his 47.5% finish was far better than you’d expect from Tsai Ing-wen’s 60% support and the green party lists’ 57% support in the district. It’s not clear the KMT can replicate these candidates’ performances in other districts (the Yen family “enterprise” in Taichung 2 is too “unique,” as the family has an allegedly organized crime background) but it should at least take notes.

Too many candidates spoil the pot

Candidates who underperformed the blue fundamentals were facing the same kinds of KMT protest candidates that fractured Chu’s and the KMT’s support in the national races. Former Taipei mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) in Keelung (#1 on List) was the most famous example: despite his fame and attention he only got 36% in Keelung—just 1% more than Eric Chu (朱立倫)—while 22% of the city’s voters cast ballots for blue third-party candidates Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄) and Yang Shih-cheng (楊石城), allowing the DPP’s Tsai Shih-ying (蔡適應) to enter the Legislature despite winning less total votes than 2012 DPP candidate Lin You-chang (林右昌) . The near-identical support for then-KMT Chairman Chu and then-Vice Chairman Hau was very appropriate.

In the plains indigenous race (#10 on List), about two-thirds of voters cast ballots for blue parties in both 2012 and 2016, but the blue votes were much more divided this time. The numbers indicate DPP’s Chen Ying (陳瑩) seemed to draw her support from 2012’s independent voters. If the KMT had divided its votes evenly among its candidates it could have theoretically crowded Chen out, but instead Sra Kacaw (鄭天財) and Sufin Siluko (廖國棟) finished far ahead of Lin Tsung-han (林琮翰). It’s likely the former two, who were incumbents, were unwilling to and never will agree to shift votes from their personal support bases to a third KMT race. With Chen Ying now able to firm up her support by legislating for the next four years, the DPP’s new foothold in the indigenous districts seems secure.

Lee Yen-hsiu (李彥秀) of Taipei 4 (#2 on List) and Lin Tsang-min (林滄敏) of Changhua 2 (#8 on List) also faced significant opposition from challengers within their own blue camp, but Lee managed to win because the PFP’s Huang Shan-shan (黃珊珊) couldn’t maximize her potential support. The DPP had endorsed Huang in the district, and the green parties and PFP party list votes surpassed 50% there, but in the end numerous green voters declined to cast a ballot for a blue opposition candidate. In the same district, green camp candidates Hsiao Ya-tan (蕭亞譚) of the TSU, Lin Shao-chih (林少馳) of the NPP, and Chen Shang-chih (陳尚志) of the SDP-Green alliance all won 5% or more, and Huang lost by less than two percent. What made the result more painful was that the district’s voters, which were about 60% blue in the last election, had swung so far that green camp supporters outnumbered blue supporters this time, so a regular DPP candidate could have won head-to-head.

Finally, in the Hsinchu City race (#4 on List), Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) of the DPP and Handy Chiu (邱顯智) of the NPP, both tapping from similar support bases, combined for 58% of the vote. Since Tsai got 51% there, one or both of them was drawing support from the opposing blue camp. Ker seems the more likely bet because of his years of experience and strong connections; Hsinchu voters could have realized having a ruling party leader as their representative would be a good deal for them. However, Chiu did campaign very aggressively, so his idealism may have drawn protest votes against the KMT’s scandal-plagued candidate. (Ker ended up losing his chance as Speaker of the Legislature, however.)

New trends, or more of the same?

The DPP also suffered disappointment in Changhua 1 (Bonus on List), where film director Akira Chen (陳文彬) was stomped by the KMT incumbent. The 2012 Changhua 1 result showed that the voters there were more faction-oriented than party-oriented, and this result does as well. Chen ran 14 points behind Tsai Ing-wen. The DPP had opted to choose a “clean” outsider rather than one of the faction politicians who’d entered its stable in the last decade, and it paid the price—electorally at least.

In Taichung 3 (#6 on List), though she too was a political neophyte, Hung Tzu-yung (洪慈庸) of the New Power Party did a great job of uniting the green base. She finished just 2.6 points behind Tsai, whereas the DPP’s 2012 candidate for the district had finished 10 behind Tsai. Hung’s national fame, the positive image of her party, and the strong support of Tsai Ing-wen and Taichung Mayor Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) likely contributed.

Finally, the Taoyuan 1 (#3 on List) race was a solid victory for the DPP that confirmed what the 2014 mayoral election results had already indicated: the old Taoyuan County may have been blue but the new Taoyuan City is green. In 2012, the KMT won all 6 Taoyuan seats. This time, the DPP won Taoyuan 1, 2, and 4, and the DPP-endorsed independent won Taoyuan 6 and then announced he’d join the DPP legislative caucus. In the two districts the KMT held, itwon only narrowly: by 0.2% in Taoyuan 3 and 1.7% in Taoyuan 5.

Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) deserves a lot of credit for his hard work. However, demographics are playing a role as well. Note the Taoyuan 1 vote totals: although turnout was 8.4 points lower in 2016 than in 2012, the number of votes was only a few thousand lower. This is a sign the district’s population is growing significantly, as has Taoyuan’s overall. Some political observers have stated that youths who can’t afford to live in Taipei are moving to Taoyuan and bringing their liberal political views with them. The strong finish for the SDP-Green candidate, who earned 8.7%, is another sign there are several young and progressive voters in the district now.

Let’s do the numbers

The 2016 presidential, party list, and district legislator results for all our districts to watch are listed below, along with the 2012 results for comparison. Note that the district legislative race results exclude indigenous voters who live in those districts (because they instead vote in the special indigenous districts, which are spread out nationwide).


2016 Results 2012 Results
Keelung District:

Tsai Shih-ying (蔡適應) (DPP) 78,707 (41.5%)

Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) (KMT) 68,632 (36.2%)

Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄) (PFP) 23,485 (12.4%)

Yang Shih-cheng (楊石城) (MKT) 19,045 (10.0%)


President: Tsai 48.2%, Chu 35.3%, Soong 16.5%

Blue Party Lists 47.9%, Green Party Lists 45.7%

Turnout (Presidential): 63.2%



George Hsieh (謝國樑) (KMT) 110,196 (52.4%)

Lin You-chang (林右昌) (DPP) 84,487 (40.2%)

Chang Keng-hui (張耿輝) (Indy) 12,332 (5.9%)

Other (2): 3,306 (1.6%)


President: Ma 59.3%, Tsai 36.8%, Soong 3.9%

Blue Party Lists 60.2%, Green Party Lists 35.0%

Turnout (P): 71.6%


Taipei 4 (Nangang, Neihu) District:

Lee Yen-hsiu (李彥秀) (KMT) 89,612 (41.7%)

Huang Shan-shan (黃珊珊) (PFP) 85,600 (39.9%)

Hsiao Ya-tan (蕭亞譚) (TSU) 13,648 (6.4%)

Lin Shao-chih (林少馳) (NPP) 12,246 (5.7%)

Chen Shang-chih (陳尚志) (SDP-Green) 10,278 (4.8%)

Ho Wei (何偉) (Independent) 2,497 (1.2%)

Other (2): 819 (0.4%)


President: Tsai 51.3%, Chu 37.3%, Soong 11.5%

Green Party Lists 47.0%, Blue Party Lists 45.3%

Turnout (P): 67.0%


Alex Tsai (蔡正元) (KMT) 111,260 (48.2%)Lee Chien-chang (李建昌) (DPP) 78,097 (33.9%)Huang Shan-shan (黃珊珊) (PFP) 39,593 (17.2%)Other (1): 0.8%


President: Ma 59.6%, Tsai 37.8%, Soong 2.6%

Blue Party Lists 58.7%, Green Party Lists 36.5%

Turnout (P): 77.3%


Taoyuan 1 (Taoyuan, Luzhu, Guishan) District:
Cheng Yun-peng (鄭運鵬) (DPP) 85,955 (47.3%)Chen Ken-te (陳根德) (KMT) 80,142 (44.1%)Wang Pao-hsuan (王寶萱) (SDP-Green) 15,802 (8.7%) 

President: Tsai 54.45%, Chu 31.55%, Soong 14.0%

Green Party Lists 51.8%, Blue Party Lists 41.5%

Turnout (P): 65.2%


Chen Ken-te (陳根德) (KMT) 102,648 (55.35%)Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) (DPP) 82,820 (44.65%)President: Ma 54.4%, Tsai 42.7%, Soong 2.9%

Blue Party Lists 54.0%, Green Party Lists 41.3%

Turnout (P): 73.6%


Hsinchu City District:

Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) (DPP) 90,642 (41.3%)

Cheng Cheng-chin (鄭正鈐) (KMT) 79,951 (36.5%)

Handy Chiu (邱顯智) (NPP) 36,309 (16.6%)

OuTsung-ching (歐崇敬) (PFP) 4,189 (1.9%)

Wu Shu-min (吳淑敏) (Independent) 4,151 (1.9%)

Other (5): 4,069 (1.9%)


President: Tsai 51.2%, Chu 32.4%, Soong 16.4%

Green Party Lists 49.5%, Blue Party Lists 43.7%

Turnout (P): 67.4%



Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟) (KMT) 121,848 (53.3%)

Chang Hsueh-shun (張學舜) (DPP) 95,715 (41.9%)

Wang Hsuan (王瑄) 7,387 (3.2%)

Other (3): 3,767 (1.7%)


President: Ma 57.4%, Tsai 39.5%, Soong 3.1%

Blue Party Lists 57.3%, Green Party Lists 38.0%

Turnout (P): 75.2%


Taichung 2 (Dadu, Wuri etc) District:

Yen Kuan-heng (顏寬恒) (KMT) 93,495 (46.7%)

Chen Shih-kai (陳世凱) (DPP) 87,596 (43.7%)

Chi Kuo-tung (紀國棟) (Independent) 17,938 (9.0%)

Other (1): 1,370 (0.7%)


President: Tsai 55.2%, Chu 28.9%, Soong 15.9%

Green Party Lists 52.9%, Blue Party Lists 41.2%

Turnout (P): 69.4%


Yen Ching-piao (顏清標) (NPSU) 118,585 (59.8%)

Lee Shun-liang (李順涼) (DPP) 79,730 (40.2%)


President: Ma 51.5%, Tsai 45.3%, Soong 3.2%

Blue Party Lists 51.3%, Green Party Lists 42.8%

Turnout (P): 75.1%


Taichung 3 (Shengang, Daya etc) District:

Hung Tzu-yung (洪慈庸) (NPP) 93,451 (53.9%)

Yang Chiung-ying (楊瓊瓔) (KMT) 78,334 (45.2%)

Huang Hsin-chi (黃信吉) (MCFAP) 1,691 (1.0%)


President: Tsai 56.5%, Chu 28.4%, Soong 15.2%

Green Party Lists 55.3%, Blue Party Lists 39.6%

Turnout (P): 70.5%


Yang Chiung-ying (楊瓊瓔) (KMT) 57.5%

Tung Jui-yang (童瑞陽) (DPP) 37.4%

Liu Kun-li (劉坤鱧) (Independent) 5.1%


President: Ma 49.7%, Tsai 47.2%, Soong 3.1%

Blue Party Lists 49.6%, Green Party Lists 45.2%

Turnout (P): 75.8%





Nantou 2 (Southern Nantou) District:

Hsu Shu-hua (許淑華) (KMT) 73,485 (56.65%)

Tsai Huang-lang (蔡煌瑯) (DPP) 56,237 (43.35%)


President: Tsai 53.4%, Chu 31.5%, Soong 15.1%

Green Party Lists 50.2%, Blue Party Lists 44.2%

Turnout (P): 63.8%



Lin Ming-chen (林明溱) (KMT) 79,008 (54.3%)

Lai Yen-hsueh (賴燕雪) (DPP) 66,447 (45.7%)


President: Ma 52.8%, Tsai 44.1%, Soong 3.1%

Blue Party Lists 52.7%, Green Party Lists 41.6%

Turnout (P): 71.3%


Changhua 1 (Lugang etc) District:

Wang Hui-mei (王惠美) 92,373 (56.2%)

Akira Chen (陳文彬) 72,003 (43.8%)


President: Tsai 57.0%, Chu 27.9%, Soong 15.0%

Green Party Lists 55.4%, Blue Party Lists 39.7%

Turnout (P): 66.8%



Wang Hui-mei (王惠美) (KMT) 63,026 (35.2%)

Chen Chin-ting (陳進丁) (DPP) 62,640 (35.0%)

Lin Yi-pang (林益邦) (Independent) 50,615 (28.3%)

Shih Yueh-ying (施月英) 2,717 (1.5%)


President: Ma 49.4%, Tsai 47.5%, Soong 3.1%

Blue Party Lists 49.0%, Green Party Lists 45.7%

Turnout (P): 75.1%

Changhua 2 (Changhua City etc) District:

Huang Hsiu-fang (黃秀芳) (DPP) 73,227 (45.1%)

Lin Tsang-min (林滄敏) (KMT) 65,020 (40.0%)

Huang Yu-fen (黃玉芬) (Independent) 12,380 (7.6%)

Wen Kuo-ming (溫國銘) (Labor) 5,773 (3.6%)

Chang Yao-yuan (張耀元) (MKT) 4,554 (2.8%)

Other (2): 1,517 (0.9%)


President: Tsai 54.5%, Chu 29.5%, Soong 16.1%

Green Party Lists 52.2%, Blue Party Lists 42.2%

Turnout (P): 68.2%



Lin Tsang-min (林滄敏) 96,108 (55.5%)

Huang Hsiu-fang (黃秀芳) 77,158 (44.5%)


President: Ma 52.9%, Tsai 44.1%, Soong 3.0%

Blue Party Lists 52.6%, Green Party Lists 42.6%

Turnout (P): 75.0%

Pingtung 2 (Pingtung City etc) District:

Chung Chia-pin (鍾佳濱) (DPP) 76,204 (52.55%)

Wang Chin-shih (王進士) (KMT) 68,815 (47.45%)


President: Tsai 60.3%, Chu 29.9%, Soong 9.8%

Green Party Lists 56.9%, Blue Party Lists 37.8%

Turnout (P): 68.1%



Wang Chin-shih (王進士) (KMT) 80,696 (51.5%)

Lee Shih-pin (李世斌) (DPP) 75,986 (48.5%)


President: Tsai 51.1%, Ma 46.8%, Soong 2.1%

Green Party Lists 49.4%, Blue Party Lists 46.8%

Turnout (P): 74.2%


Plains Indigenous 1. Sra Kacaw (鄭天財) (KMT) 28.5% (26,979)

2. Sufin Siluko (廖國棟) (KMT) 20.6% (19,468)

3. Chen Ying (陳瑩) (DPP) 18.0% (17,052)

4. Lin Tsung-han (林琮翰) (KMT) 9.6% (9,118)

5. Mayaw Biho (馬躍‧比吼) (Indy) 9.5% (9,009)

6. Lin Hao-yi (林昊宜) (PFP) 6.5% (6,191)

7. Rahic Amind (吳國譽) (MKT) 1.9% (1,808)

8. Takiyo Kacaw (達佶祐‧卡造) (MCFAP) 1.2% (1,160)

Five others combine for 4.0%


1. Sufin Siluko (廖國棟) (KMT) 27.5% (26,998)

2. Sra Kacaw (鄭天財) (KMT) 23.9% (23,480)

3. Lin Cheng-er (林正二) (PFP) 14.3% (13,992)

4. Hung Kuo-chih (洪國治) (Indy) 10.7% (10,524)

5. Dibus Ilai (笛布斯.顗賚) (Indy) 9.0% (8,841)

6. Jongren Dalus (忠仁.達祿斯) (Indy) 6.9% (6,757)

7. Mayaw Biho (馬躍‧比吼) (Indy) 4.6% (4,553)

Three others combine for 3.0%




[1]For the party lists, I counted the KMT, PFP, New Party, MKT, MCFAP, and Unification Promotion party as blue, and the DPP, TSU, NPP, FTP, and Taiwan independence parties as green. The Green Party and SDP-Greens are among the “other” parties not focused on national identity.

(Feature photo of New Power Party legislators’ first day in Parliament, from Freddy Lim’s public Facebook page.) is the owner and author of the eponymous Tumblr blog, where he translates Taiwan's news media and provides sharp commentary about Taiwan's current affairs.