Thu, Jan 21, 2016 - Page 3 News List

ANALYSIS: Ethnicity not an important factor in elections

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

In Hsinchu, the large clans of Chen (陳), Lin (林), Cheng (鄭) and Fan (范), as well as minor clans, are in control of local politics.

With the rules of the game established and the KMT making sure it provided benefits from it being in power, it was difficult for a latecomer, the DPP in this case, to join the game.

However, the DPP has also secured some victories.

Former Hsinchu County commissioners Fan Chen-tsung (范振宗), who served two terms from 1989 to 1997, and Lin Kuang-hua (林光華), who served from 1997 to 2001, were both DPP members.

However, Fan and Lin were elected not because voters in Hsinchu wanted a rotation of power, but because the Fan family is one of the larger ones in control of local politics in Hsinchu. Thus the two were elected with the help of the clans.

Fan ran as an independent in 1989 and only joined the DPP after his win, while Lin is not only from an influential local family clan, but also served as an administer, a member of the board of directors and chairperson of Yimin Temple (義民廟) in Hsinchu County’s Sinpu Township (新埔), which was the most important religious center for Hakka not only in Hsinchu, but also in most of northern Taiwan.

The election wins for Fan and Lin in Hsinchu County — the region with highest concentration of Hakka in the nation — show a politician’s party affiliation might not be so important, as long as they have a connection to the right faction or family.

The DPP seems to have learned the lesson, as in this year’s presidential election, it chose to work with local factions.

In Miaoli, the party mobilized support from several local political leaders, including Cholan Township (卓蘭) Mayor Chan Kun-chin (詹坤金) of the KMT, while in Hsinchu County almost all township mayors, regardless of party affiliation, were neutral, if not supportive of Tsai.

In the legislative race, the DPP did not nominate its own candidate in Hsinchu County, but supported independent candidate Cheng Yung-chin (鄭永金), who had served both as county commissioner and legislator, and was backed by the Cheng family.

As for Taoyuan, mobilization of support was easier for the DPP, as Taoyuan Mayor Chen Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) is a DPP member.

The DPP’s strategy has apparently worked.

In 2012, Tsai lost to her KMT rival by nearly 390,000 votes in Miaoli, Hsinchu and Taoyuan — where nearly 40 percent of the population is Hakka — but on Saturday, she defeated KMT presidential candidate Eric Chu (朱立倫) by more than 200,000 votes over the three regions.

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