The likelihood of Kaohsiung County Commissioner Yang Chiu-hsing (楊秋興) winning the Greater Kaohsiung mayoral election surged dramatically just one day after he said he was interested in running as an independent in the November election, a university prediction center said yesterday.
Prediction markets are speculative exchanges, with the value of an asset meant to reflect the likelihood of a future event. Members can tender virtual bids on events, with the bidding price reflecting the probability.
National Chengchi University’s Prediction Market Center said that on a scale of NT$0 to NT$100, the average price of an “other candidate” grew from NT$6.29 on Aug. 2 to NT$18.57 yesterday after Yang, a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) member, said he had made up his mind to throw his hat in the ring — although he has not made a formal announcement.
If Yang follows through, his entry would turn the race into a three-way contest with DPP Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順).
In the “other candidate” contract, the value as of yesterday for Chen, Yang and Huang were NT$56.7, NT$33.6 and NT$16.9 respectively.
Center director Tung Chen-yuan (童振源) attributed the growth to the “Yang Chiu-hsing effect.”
Yang lost the DPP primary to Chen in early May.
Meanwhile, a poll released by the Chinese-language United Daily News yesterday reported that Chen has 52 percent support against Huang’s 19 percent among Greater Kaohsiung voters.
The survey, in which 852 residents of Kaohsiung City and county were interviewed to assess their voting intention in the Nov. 27 special municipality elections, was conducted on Tuesday night, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percent.
The poll shows Chen would still be the front runner in a three-way race with 44 percent of the vote, followed by Yang with 23 percent and Huang with 13 percent. Nineteen percent of respondents were undecided.
The poll result appeared to support DPP Secretary-General Wu Nai-jen’s (吳乃仁) comments yesterday that regardless of Yang’s decision, the DPP still expected a win.
However, Wu also hinted at just how far the DPP has gone in its attempts to prevent a three-way race from taking place.
“Just about every party heavyweight has recently paid Yang a visit,” he said, ticking off the names of DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) and Taipei mayoral candidate Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌).
Tsai will travel south to meet with Yang today in a last-ditch attempt to dissuade him from launching his own bid.
Speaking in a meeting with the DPP’s Central Standing Committee yesterday, Tsai vowed that the party would not give up on its efforts to prevent Yang from leaving the party that he has been a part of for the last 30 years.
“The DPP will do all that it can to ensure that Yang stays in the party,” she said, adding that the party believed that his departure was not a done deal because the commissioner had yet to make a formal announcement.
DPP officials have also said that despite Yang’s remarks about defecting from the party, he had yet to say when he would make a formal announcement to run.
“We all still hope that he is only playing one big joke on us,” said Hsieh, a former Kaohsiung mayor.
However, he said that Yang’s insistence on leaving the DPP was growing stronger by the day.
“But of course nothing is certain,” he said.
He also urged the public to avoid speculating on how Yang’s departure would impact the DPP’s election prospects in Kaohsiung, saying: “We shouldn’t be addressing his funeral before the man is even dead.”
Yang appeared to be unfazed yesterday. Asked for comment during a visit to the county’s Dashu Township (大樹), Yang said he would not change his mind and urged the party not to make things difficult for him.
“Since I’ve made up my mind, I will go for it,” he said. “Please understand the difficult decision I made.”
Yang said he was willing to accept criticism from all sides.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY FLORA WANG
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