With regard to the Yen clan, the DPP only touched on the issue by talking in moderate terms about “aspirations” and “electing someone who can be a good model for our children.”
With the top leaders from both sides joining the battle, the candidates themselves seemed to be relegated to supporting roles.
Yen Kuan-hen beat Chen by a mere 1,138 votes, and only by virtue of his home territory advantage in Shalu and Longjing districts. It is true that this close result had something to do with the Ma administration’s poor performance, but the DPP’s successful strategy and the waning power of local factions to mobilize voters were also important factors.
Although the DPP did not win the by-election, it was a glorious defeat and shows that the party has the potential to win future Greater Taichung elections.
The KMT candidate won the by-election, but by a very narrow margin, so the party has nothing to celebrate. Such a narrow victory is unlikely to improve the party’s morale and Ma will not gain any points from it.
Following recent setbacks for the KMT in Nantou and Changhua counties, it is now seeing ever-narrower majorities in Greater Taichung. This not only casts a heavy cloud on the party’s prospects for next year’s local elections, but also sounds an alarm over its strategic ambition in central Taiwan in the 2016 presidential contest.
Wang Yeh-lih is a professor of political science at National Taiwan University.
Translated by Julian Clegg