Sat, Nov 11, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Johnny Neihu's Mailbag

Delve into the sociology (or is it political erotology?) of the Taipei City Council election campaign. Which candidate turns you on? And how can Chen Chu compete in this insatiable electoral lovefest?

Ballot love is in the air

Dear Johnny,

In light of your column last Saturday ("Hey, you stupid eggs, vote for me," Nov. 4, page 8), perhaps you can answer two related questions. First, it strikes me, especially in the Taipei region, that somewhat attractive, 30 to 40ish female candidates are heavily over-represented.

Second, what is the resonance of "using love" in the present campaign? I've seen this many times on billboards and other advertising material for candidates, and I've almost never seen mention of anything that would be a serious campaign issue in the West. My theory is that mayoral candidates want a bunch of "whatever faction" councilors who will simply do what they're told.

David Schak

Visiting Scholar Institute of Sociology

Academia Sinica

Johnny replies: David, beauty is in the eye of the ballot holder. To you, Huang Shan-shan (黃珊珊, People First Party, Neihu/Nangang) might be the hottest spunkbucket this side of the Taipei County border, but I might prefer taking Chin Li-fang (秦儷舫, KMT, Da-an/Wenshan) out behind the council chambers for a bit of old policy cut-and-thrust, if you know what I mean. I can't speak for your taste in women, but might I venture the possibility that Taiwanese women between 30 and 40 are all gorgeous?

However, as I've written before, politics and orgasms are a poor match. They may seem hot on the poster, but like their male colleagues, they're probably too tired and too self-serving to be good in the sack. Stick to seductive spooks: They know where everything is hidden.

To be fair, I think it's to this country's credit that female candidates do well (in 2002, 17 of 28 female candidates were elected to Taipei City Council's 52 seats; in Kaohsiung it was 10 of 18 candidates for 44 seats). Not too many professions out there offer women at this age a new opportunity in life. And putting aside the harridans of different parties who think slapping each other in the legislature is acceptable, and disregarding the crap that comes with the green-blue divide, most of the women in elected office are a credit to the nation and a reminder to the men that the sun doesn't shine out of their asses.

On "using love": A saccharine slogan in a loveless and at times nasty and venal occupation makes candidates just a little less repulsive. Certainly it appeals to naive voters who lap up my beloved country's infantilization. A classic example, though sloppily rendered in English, is the slogan for Chen Chu (陳菊), the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) candidate for Kaohsiung mayor: "Love and power" is what she promises (if only she'd applied either, or preferably both, when she had responsibility for migrant labor). Have a peek at her campaign blog at www.wretch.cc/blog/kikuchen. It's full of Chen Chu doll figures (love). There's also a shot of her "veterinarian's fist" (power).

If you look hard enough -- try council Web sites and candidate blogs, which are quite fashionable now -- you'll find policy statements for most of the candidates, though policy is for now less important than personal networks and blind faith in the party ticket.

The councilors aren't just the playthings of the mayoral candidates; they're a vital link between city hall and local political interests and many have ambitions beyond seeking patronage. Witness rabble rouser DPP Legislator Wang Shih-cheng (王世堅), who after completing Mayor Abuse 101 went on to become a very visible lawmaker with substantial local support. More and more, the "whatever faction" seems to be the "me faction."

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