Each of Taiwan's 31 electoral districts has its own special characteristics. Taoyuan County, which elects 13 members of the Legislature, is the nation's biggest electorate. It is also one of its most complex.
Home to 1,800,000 people, Taoyuan County has long been divided into the North, focused on Taoyuan city, and the South, which has Chungli city as its key city. The North is mainly Hoklo while the South is predominantly Hakka. In addition, numerous military bases and large numbers of military villages throughout the county mean that many Mainlanders also live in Taoyuan.
In addition to the county's some 40,000 Aboriginal people, about one-half of the population is Hoklo, while one-third is Hakka and about one-sixth (or a bit more) is Mainlander.
In the authoritarian period, this ethnic division led to strong competition between a Hoklo and a Hakka faction. The divisions became so bad that the two sides agreed to a rotation of offices.
In addition to these ethnic elements, Taoyuan County also has a coastal region and a mountainous region. This interplay of ethnic and geographical differences makes the county extremely complex for any political party trying to win control. Yet, in the legislative election, Taoyuan elects over seven percent of the seats. Thus, Taoyuan County cannot be ignored.
Over the years, Taoyuan has tended to be a pan-blue citadel. In the March 2004 presidential election, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (
People from all sides of the political spectrum agree about two key aspects of the current legislative campaign in Taoyuan.
First, all sides have nominated too many candidates. Nineteen of the twenty-eight candidates running for the thirteen positions are nominees of the four major parties.
In addition, there are at least one or two reasonably powerful non-partisans. Secondly, no party (with the partial exception of the KMT) has implemented a system of vote allocation.
For this election the DPP has nominated seven candidates, even though the presidential vote would suggest six candidates would have been more appropriate. Taoyuan has one seat guaranteed for a woman, and so the DPP added a woman to go with the six seats won by males in the primary election within the DPP.
However, this method of choosing candidates led to the selection of only three from the north -- the heartland of DPP support in Taoyuan -- and the nomination of four candidates in the south, three of whom are Hakka.
Into this mix the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) has now nominated two candidates. Most believe only one, Huang Tsung-yuan (
The pan-blues also have nominated too many candidates. The KMT originally nominated six candidates, though a seventh, actually a member of the New Party, has come in under the KMT banner. The KMT nominations seem to have considered geographical origins more carefully than the DPP.