While opinion polls predicted a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) loss in Saturday's presidential election, the extent of its defeat came as a surprise to some, especially in the south, traditionally considered a DPP stronghold.
Speaking on the loss of support in the south, Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) said that although DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) performed well as the city's mayor, it may have been regarded as irrelevant and the party might not have packaged Hsieh's achievements very well.
Hsieh garnered over 48 percent of the votes in Kaohsiung City, while his Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) rival Ma Ying-jeou (
The DPP ticket won in only five counties: Yunlin, Chiayi, Tainan, Kaohsiung and Pingtung.
Despite Ma's not-so-memorable achievements during his stint as Taipei mayor, analysts said Ma's good looks and charisma made him immune to criticism.
In fact, since taking office in December 1998, not a single opinion poll -- including those conducted by private groups as well as the city government -- has ever put Ma in a negative light.
In Saturday's election, Ma collected a record high number of votes since the first direct presidential election in 1996. Ma secured 58.45 percent of the ballots, or over 7.5 million, with the DPP ticket garnering 41.55 percent, or about 5.4 million.
At an election-eve rally in Taipei City, Hsieh could not help but complain that the public has adopted a "double standard" where Ma is concerned.
"I wonder whether the public would forgive President Chen [Shui-bian (
Hsieh has accused Ma of holding a US green card since 1977, while Ma has said his green card was automatically invalidated in 1985 when he applied for a visa to travel to the US.
Ku Chung-hwa (
"We call it the charisma phenomenon -- a form of idolatry," he said.
Political analyst Antonio Chiang (江春男), a former Taipei Times editor-in-chief, agreed, saying that although Hsieh was more capable, eloquent and smarter than Ma, most Taiwanese tend to identify more with someone who is less articulate and more simple.
"It was Ma's success, not the KMT's," he said. "It was President Chen who defeated the DPP. It was an impossible task under the circumstances no matter how hard Hsieh tried."
In addition to personal charisma, Chiang said Ma successfully created the image that he was connected with Taiwan, an issue his predecessors avoided.
"No matter how true his intention was, he deserves some credit for moving away from China and toward Taiwan," Chiang said.
"It was meaningful to have the first [democratically elected] China-born president in Taiwan," he said.
Since the loss on Saturday, party heavyweights have been keeping a low profile, but most agree that the DPP must take a good look at itself and finger-pointing is rife.
Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) was the first to criticize Hsieh, saying that he had distanced himself from President Chen, making her and the president unable to help in the campaign as much as they had hoped.
Pingtung County Commissioner Tsao Chih-hung (
Some targeted former secretary-general of the Ministry of Education Chuang Kuo-rong (莊國榮) for his derogatory remarks about Ma's late father as well as Minister of Education Tu Cheng-sheng (杜正勝), who had apologized for Chuang's conduct.
Tsai Chia-hung (蔡佳泓), an associate research fellow at National Chengchi University's Election Study Center, said that it was a myth that the south has traditionally been the stronghold of the DPP, at least not in the 2000 presidential election.
Statistics showed that except for Tainan County, the KMT ticket of former vice president Lien Chan (連戰) and Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) and the independent ticket of James Soong (宋楚瑜) and Chang Chao-hsiung (張昭雄) together garnered more votes in Kaohsiung County, Kaohsiung City, Tainan City and Pingtung County than thee DPP ticket.
In the 2004 presidential election, the ratio between DPP and KMT tickets in the south changed from 4 to 5 to 5 to 4 and in Tainan County from 4 to 5 to 6 to 3.
One of the reasons that the south is growing more DPP friendly is that residents there are worse-off than their northern counterparts so they depend more on government subsidies and therefore tend to support those who give them , Tsai said.
Tsai said Saturday's election also proved that the identity card was simply not enough to win this year's election.
The KMT not only tackled the identity issue head on but also focused on improving the economy, stoking public dissatisfaction with the current administration's economic policy, he said.
Compounding the problem was the negative coverage by some KMT-friendly media outlets, Tsai said. It drove away younger voters who consume such media.
COSTLY TECH FAILURE: More than 25,000 files for nearly 8,000 students from 81 schools were lost when system administrators updated a server, the Ministry of Education said The academic records of 7,854 high-school students have been lost due to a hard-drive failure, the Ministry of Education said yesterday. The records were being stored at National Chi Nan University, which was commissioned by the ministry’s K-12 Education Administration to host a computer server of student portfolios that universities could access to evaluate their applications. Under a program introduced in 2019 for high-school students starting that year, students are to create portfolios to be used for university applications, which include their grades, extracurricular activities and other information related to their character and achievements. System administrators discovered that files were missing when rebooting
921 EARTHQUAKE: The magnitude 7.3 quake left 2,456 people dead and 10,718 injured, while 53,661 houses were fully destroyed and 53,024 houses damaged The Central Weather Bureau yesterday received about 50,000 views on Facebook after it posted the data that it collected on Sept. 21, 1999, when the nation was devastated by a magnitude 7.3 earthquake. The data showed that the 921 Earthquake hit the nation at 1:47am, with the epicenter being 7km southwest of the bureau’s quake detection center in Nantou County’s Yuchi Township (魚池) at a depth of 8km. The quake left 2,456 people dead and 10,718 injured, while 53,661 houses were fully destroyed and 53,024 houses damaged, with the cost of the damage estimated at NT$300 billion (US$10.8 billion at the current
CONFUSING RESULTS: A New Taipei City worker tested positive for COVID-19 in a rapid test and a PCR test, but negative in a traditional nucleic acid test, the CECC said Travelers from Bangladesh, Brazil and Peru are no longer required to quarantine at a government center, and from Saturday can choose to quarantine at hotels, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. The three nations are no longer considered “key high-risk countries,” as their COVID-19 case numbers have continued to fall, the CECC said, adding that no travelers from these countries have been confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 in the past two months. The revised classification would allow travelers from the three countries to choose where they stay during their mandatory 14-day quarantine, although they would be required to pay
‘TECHNICALITY’: The full moon was at 7:55am, but the Taipei Astronomical Museum said it technically remained a ‘real’ full moon when it rose again at night The Mid-Autumn Festival had a “real” full moon, the first time the astronomical categorization has fallen on the day of the festival since 2013, the Taipei Astronomical Museum said yesterday. The festival, which falls on the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar — which this year was yesterday — does not always coincide with an exact full moon, the museum said. A full moon occurs when the Earth is between the sun and the moon — or, more precisely, when the ecliptic longitudes of the sun and the moon differ by 180° — which has a cycle of