Slowing population growth could hurt the DPP: lawmaker

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Jan 09, 2013 - Page 3

A former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker yesterday alerted the party to a disturbing demographic trend that could hurt its chances of winning national elections in the future — the decreasing population in southern Taiwan.

“The traditional winning formula for the DPP in a presidential election — winning in a landslide in southern Taiwan, pulling even in central Taiwan and losing by a small margin in northern Taiwan — could be no longer workable in the future,” Julian Kuo (郭正亮) said in an online column.

Kuo’s rationale is simple: The population in southern Taiwan, the DPP’s traditional stronghold, is decreasing.

The population in Greater Tainan and Greater Kaohsiung, both governed by the DPP, increased by only 12,376 between November 2010 and August last year, while the populations of Taipei City, New Taipei City and Greater Taichung, governed by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), increased by about 132,000, or about a 10 to 1 ratio, Kuo said, citing national statistics as saying.

Those numbers mean that Kaohsiung and Tainan will in five years time be the least populated cities among the five special municipalities, despite Kaohsiung currently being ranked as the second-most populated special municipality with 2.78 million residents, behind New Taipei City’s (新北市) 3.93 million.

The demographic change was a long-term trend, which could be related to the government’s longstanding policy of allocating most resources to northern Taiwan, rather than a phenomenon developed in the last two years, Kuo said.

However, the change is alarming for the DPP because the population difference between northern Taiwan — Taipei, New Taipei City and Keelung, and Taoyuan, Hsinchu and Miaoli counties — and southern Taiwan — Yunlin, Chiayi, Tainan, Kaohsiung and Pingtung counties — has grown from 12.11 percent of the national population in 2001 to 14.73 percent this year.

The gap of 2.62 percent translated into 474,000 voters nationally, calculated on the basis of the 18.09 million people eligible to vote last year in the presidential election, in which DPP candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) lost by about 800,000 votes, or 6 percent, Kuo said.

If the KMT was able to further consolidate its support in northern Taiwan — its traditional stronghold — the demographic gap could be too much for the DPP to overcome, Kuo said.

The DPP should appeal to residents in northern Taiwan before it is too late, Kuo said.