The People First Party’s (PFP) “mother hen leading the chicken” strategy comes across as an attempt to strengthen the chances of PFP legislative candidates via PFP presidential candidate James Soong’s (宋楚瑜) high profile. It has one clear-cut goal: obtaining 5 percent of votes for the party to be eligible for a share of the Legislative Yuan’s at-large seats.
For Saturday’s elections, the PFP has only nominated 12 legislative candidates for district seats. Except for two Aboriginal candidates and one vying for a legislative seat representing an outlying island, all the other candidates are focused on the five special municipalities and Taoyuan.
One party official said that smaller parties had a greater chance of obtaining votes in highly populated urban areas.
However, this nomination strategy also means that interactions between the presidential and legislative candidates have become less frequent.
PFP spokesperson Wu Kun-yu (吳崑玉) said that because the PFP has only nominated 12 legislative candidates, whenever Soong and his running mate, Lin Ruey-shiung (林瑞雄), travel to areas contested by the PFP, they are inevitably “tied together” with PFP candidates, but in places where the PFP has not nominated candidates, they can only try to persuade voters to cast their party votes for the PFP.
Legislative candidate Chen Cheng-sheng (陳振盛), representing the PFP in Taipei City’s sixth electoral district, used the analogy of the relationship between a “hen and chick” to describe the strategy — “The mother hen is already thin as a stick, the chicks of course won’t, get much milk” — which alludes to the PFP being a small party beset by financial difficulties.
Because of its financial difficulties, the party’s legislative candidates must focus on areas “that won’t come down to the battle of the dollar bill.”
Of course, PFP candidates are also clearly aware that Soong’s popularity from his days as provincial governor has faded, while in some areas PFP legislative candidates actually have more influence than their party’s chairman, causing some to ask what the “mother hen” can do for the chicks.
Chen Ching-lung (陳清龍), the PFP’s legislative candidate for Greater Taichung’s eighth district, described the situation as follows: “With a mother hen, the chicks aren’t just a bunch of scattered forces,” adding that without Soong, each candidate would have to fight on his or her own.
“Only by Soong’s intermediary negotiations and actions are we a team,” Chen Ching-lung said.
For a small party like the PFP, who have set themselves a goal of crossing the 5 percent political party vote threshold, Soong’s presence — even though his charisma is on the decline — is still the “glue” for the party and should not be taken lightly, observers said.
Translated by Jake Chung, staff writer