The upcoming Hualien County commissioner by-election, which otherwise would have merely been a political blip in a small town, has now become a training course for campaigners from both the blue and green camps for next year's presidential election. However, any conclusion derived from the Hualien race about the that election will be a stretch. What's more interesting are the problems that have been exposed in both camps during their nomination processes for the by-election.
Hualien has been a KMT stronghold for half a century. No non-KMT candidate has ever won the commissioner's seat.
This by-election should have been a sure win for the blue camp, but internal conflicts have now created uncertainties. In an effort to win back power in next year's presidential race, the KMT decided to field a joint KMT-PFP ticket. This has given rise to fundamental power conflicts in the alliance, of which Hualien is but one example.
Backroom trading at the central government level and neglect of local opinion were some of the reasons behind the KMT's defeat in 2000. The KMT-PFP alliance is making the same mistake now. The blue camp has insisted on Hsieh Shen-shan (
The only key to integration in the KMT-PFP alliance is the secret deals between KMT Chairman Lien Chan (
The problem is that top party officials may be bought off with promises of Cabinet or legislative seats, but KMT-PFP cooperation has a very negative impact on local factions. Usually the commissioner or mayoral election is the only battlefield for local factions. Now that the two parties have joined hands, which side should relent and withdraw from the competition?
The KMT no longer has the massive political and business resources it once had to buy off local politicians. Local power struggles will continue to explode in the coming months and this is exactly the fulcrum point where the green camp can employ divisive strategies.
During his many inspection tours of local construction projects over the past month, President Chen Shui-bian (
The problem is that the DPP has failed to nominate its own candidate. It can now only encourage Liu Chao-eh (