Sun, Jan 13, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Legislative elections and referendums: ANALYSIS: Low voter turnout a key factor in KMT win

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The pan-blue camp won yesterday's legislative election by a wide margin as its main rival, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), failed to come up with effective strategies that could have helped it overcome the disadvantages it faced under the new electoral system, political analysts said yesterday.

Except for certain districts in the south, the structure of most electoral districts favors the pan-blue camp by a 55 to 44 ratio, said Chen Chao-jian (陳朝建), an assistant professor of public affairs at Ming Chuan University.

The change, from the previous multiple-seat constituency to a single-member constituency, made it much easier for pan-blue candidates to secure seats, a phenomenon born out in the 2005 elections for heads of local governments, where a similar "winner takes all" voting model was used, he said.

In the 2005 elections, the pan-blue camp garnered 55 percent of the votes and took control of 18 local counties and cities. The green camp won just seven counties and cities, despite the fact that it only obtained about 10 percent less votes than the pan-blue camp.

In yesterday's election, the pan-blue camp -- composed of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), the People First Party (PFP) and the Non-Partisan Solidarity Union (NPSU) -- won more than a XXX majority, but it beat the DPP by only XXX percent in terms of votes.

"Before the election even started, the pan-blue camp already had at least 10 seats in its pocket -- the districts in eastern Taiwan, the outlying islands and Aboriginal districts -- said Tseng Chien-yuan (曾建元), an assistant professor of public administration at Chung Hua University.

In other districts, which are also traditionally considered pan-blue strongholds, the low turnout rate was another cause for concern, as pan-blue legislative candidates remained dominant over their pan-green counterparts, Tseng said.

"The pan-blue candidates might have lost some of those seats if we had seen a 20 percent increase in turnout," he said.

Tseng said the DPP has lost its former ability to appeal to young voters, whose frustrating experiences under the DPP government over the past eight years has had a marked influence on their voting behavior.

"The DPP government has performed poorly and they do not like the KMT, so young voters might just as well stay home and prepare for their final exams, which start tomorrow," Tseng said.

Also absent from the elections were swing voters, who account for about 20 percent of eligible voters, said Yang Tai-shun (楊泰順), a professor of political science at Chinese Culture University.

Yang Tai-shun said that most voters waiving their right to vote this year were probably pan-green supporters, a departure from previous elections, when they were mostly from the pan-blue camp.

"Pan-blue supporters are so afraid of losing to the DPP again that a crisis of conscience prompted them to cast their ballots. For pan-green supporters, especially the so called light-greens, their disappointment with the DPP apparently made them decide not to vote," he said.

Given that the electoral structure already favored the pan-blue camp, the DPP yielded seats, as its candidates had no means to persuade swing voters, Yang Tai-shun said.

"The KMT's Justin Chou (周守訓) is actually a lightweight and might have lost Datong and Shilin district if the DPP had nominated Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) rather than Wang Shih-cheng (王世堅)," he said.

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