Mon, Dec 06, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Taoyuan's overcrowded but key race

Taoyuan County has long been a pan-blue citadel; in the upcoming legislative elections the county will be vital since it's the nation's largest --and probably most complex -- electorate

By Bruce Jacobs

The geographical distribution has meant that the KMT has ordered each of the township party headquarters to help a specific candidate. This is the only vote allocation so far decreed in Taoyuan, but everyone (including KMT candidates) agrees that it is next to worthless.

Furthermore, the KMT votes in the Huang Fu-hsing (黃復興) Party Headquarters from retired servicemen have all been allocated to Chu Feng-chih (朱鳳芝), a female Mainlander KMT nominee. All other KMT candidates have complained about this distribution, especially as all public opinion polls have Chu in either first or second place, with almost twice as many votes as the third and fourth-ranked candidates. In terms of gender, two of the six original KMT candidates are women.

The PFP has nominated three candidates, bringing the total number of pan-blue nominees to ten. Together with the KMT's Chu, Sun Ta-chien (孫大千), a Mainlander and an incumbent PFP legislator, has the votes in the military villages sewn up. Two of the three PFP nominees are Mainlanders. The primary non-partisan in the election, Chiu Chuang-liang (邱創良), actually left the PFP when he felt there was no space in that party for a Taiwanese.

With so many candidates running, the margin between winners and losers will be quite small. This means that successful vote allocation could improve a party's result by one or two seats, but it also means that mistakes in vote allocation could mean that a certain winner could lose.

Thus, with the complexity of the election, its uncertainty, and the lateness in the campaign, probably no party will attempt to implement a vote allocation strategy in Taoyuan County. The likelihood is that the pan-greens will keep their five seats and possibly increase their seats to six. But the leading pan-blue candidates will do well. In addition to Sun and Chu, Wu Chih-yang (吳志揚), the son of KMT Vice-Chairman and leading Hakka politician Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄), and Chen Ken-te (陳根德), a former county assembly speaker, may take too many votes away from other KMT candidates. In that case, the pan-greens could win seven or even eight seats. But, in all likelihood, the pan-blues will retain a majority of seven or even eight seats in Taoyuan.

Bruce Jacobs is Professor of Asian Languages and Studies and Director of the Taiwan Research Unit at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

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