Mon, Nov 29, 2010 - Page 3 News List

2010 ELECTIONS: ANALYSIS: Election results should sound alarm bells for president

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff Reporter

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) won three of the five mayoral seats in Saturday’s special municipality election, but saw a drop in its overall share of the vote that signaled a warning for President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) re-election bid in 2012, political watchers said.

The party retained Taipei City, Taipei County (which will be renamed Sinbei City after its upgrade next month) and Greater Taichung, but did poorly in Greater Tainan and Greater Kaohsiung. Overall, the KMT garnered only 3.4 million, or 44.5 percent, of all votes, compared with 3.8 million votes, or 49.9 percent, won by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). A look at the KMT’s performance at major elections from 2008 shows it has seen a steady decline in support.

The KMT received 58.45 percent of the votes in the 2008 presidential election and 47.88 percent in the local government head elections later in the same year. The DPP, on the other hand, garnered 41.55 percent of the votes in the 2008 presidential poll, and 45.32 percent in the local government elections.

“Saturday’s election was a midterm exam for the Ma administration and the KMT’s falling support reflected public dissatisfaction with the economy and performance of the central government,” said Shih Cheng-feng (施正鋒), a political analyst from National Tunghua University.

Although no major shifts were made in the five metropolitan cities in terms of the overall political landscape, the KMT retained Taichung with an unexpectedly thin margin. The number of votes it received in Kaohsiung dropped significantly compared with the previous mayoral election in 2006. The KMT’s disappointing performance, Shih said, showed the number of swing voters who look beyond political affiliations is increasing. Both Ma, who also serves as the KMT chairman, and KMT Secretary-General King Pu-tsung (金溥聰) recognized the warning signs, and promised to reflect on the poll results.

Ma and King attributed the drop in votes to Kaohsiung County Commissioner Yang Chiu-hsing’s (楊秋興) participation in the vote. Yang withdrew from the DPP in August to run as an independent and sought support from the pan-blue camp.

“The number of overall votes is not ideal and we will take the result as a warning sign. As the ruling party, we will reflect upon our performance and make adjustments,” King said on Saturday.

King, the mastermind behind the party’s campaign strategies in the elections, avoided discussing whether the KMT passed the “mid-term exam” from the election, and declined to comment on the impact of a shooting incident on election’s eve on the election results.

On Friday night, former KMT chairman Lien Chan’s (連戰) son Sean Lien (連勝文) was shot in the face when campaigning for a KMT Sinbei councilor candidate in Yonghe (永和), Taipei County. He was rushed to the hospital and survived the accident.

It is believed that the incident help prompted some swing voters with pan-blue leaning to give their votes to the KMT candidates, especially in Taipei City and Sinbei City, where the candidates from the two parties were fighting a neck-to-neck battle.

Commenting on the election result yesterday, Ma said it was “difficult to estimate” whether Sean Lien’s accident played a role in the election.

Political analyst Ku Chung-hwa (顧忠華) of National Chengchi University said the accident helped Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) and Sinbei

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