As more than 100,000 China-based Taiwanese businesspeople are expected to return to Taiwan to vote in next year’s combined presidential and legislative elections, both the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) are gearing up efforts in hopes that the decisive minority would vote in their favor.
The Central Election Commission has proposed Jan. 14 as the date for the merged elections.
As the proposed date falls just one week before the Lunar New Year holidays, members of the pan-blue camp have surmised this would help the KMT in its efforts to mobilize China-based Taiwanese businesspeople to return home and vote for KMT candidates.
According to the analysis by KMT members, the most direct impact of returning Taiwanese businesspeople would be an increase in voter turnout. As the KMT is perceived as holding an advantage over the DPP in terms of support from China-based Taiwanese businesspeople, pan-blue camp -members think this group of voters could play a decisive role in helping President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the KMT win re-election.
Pan-blue camp members conservatively estimated that in the 2008 presidential election, Ma and his running mate, Vincent Siew (蕭萬長), received 150,000 votes from China-based Taiwanese businesspeople.
If businesspeople’s family members are persuaded to vote for Ma, this amounted to an estimated 300,000 to 450,000 votes.
DPP acting chairperson Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘), on the other hand, was not at all pessimistic about wooing support from China-based Taiwanese businesspeople.
Saying that the DPP is not entirely without influence when it comes to this group of voters, Ker said that many Taiwanese businesspeople have grown unhappy with the Ma administration.
Their return to vote in the elections would not necessarily be advantageous for the KMT, he said, adding that the number of China-based Taiwanese businesspeople who support the DPP has grown.
Ker said that the DPP would soon form a special task force focused on issues of concern to China-based Taiwanese businesspeople and seek to -communicate with them in the run-up to the elections.
DPP Deputy Secretary--General Fred Hung (洪耀福) said the large numbers of Taiwanese executives working for China-based Taiwanese companies returning to vote for the elections do not necessarily share the same political ideals with their employers.
Taiwanese businesspeople are aware, after their many years of negotiating with the Chinese government, that they are entitled to more beneficial measures in China because of the work done by the DPP in Taiwan, Hung said, adding that the DPP’s China policies would become more practical in order to maintain cross-strait relations.
Political observers said it was worthwhile remembering the -unprecedented mobilization of China-based Taiwanese businesspeople in the 2008 presidential election.
The forming of the Association of Taiwan Investment Enterprise on the Mainland, some political observers say, has made it possible for the Chinese government to keep tabs on Taiwanese businesspeople.
While the public does not feel Taiwanese businesspeople can be controlled by the Chinese government or by the KMT, some say it remains to be seen in the combined elections whether China can infiltrate and influence important elections in Taiwan via China-based Taiwanese businesspeople.