Friday, January 11, 2008

election fever ..or not

The election trucks are coming!!!

In the past few days, i've become used to the sound of fireworks and loudspeakers in my neighbourhood as election hopefuls speed by on jeeps soliciting support from voters.

Yes, its election time. But since 2001 Taiwan has had elections almost every year..and voter fatigue is setting in.

But these elections - to choose the make up of a new parliament - are a little different from the past. Thanks to electoral reforms, the number of seats is roughly halved...scaled down from 225 to just 113. The voting system has changed too. In the past, multiple candidates, some from the same party, vied for a number of seats in the same district. Now, only one candidate can be selected for each district. Previously, voters cast one vote; now they need to cast two - one for the candidate; a second for a preferred party.

The aim of the parliamentary reforms - which got strong support from the public embarrassed by their unruly legislature, where fist and food fights often erupted - was aimed at creating a cleaner and more efficient system, which would encourage more moderate, less corrupt or extremist legislators.

"You need to be much more hard working. .Its very competitive. because there is only 1 seat where you can get elected", said DPP candidate, Julian Kuo.

"In the past, we had 10 seats elected in a multiple seat district. I would say you got 8% of total voters and you got elected…sometimes you only pursue some fundamental factions or interest groups, and you got elected. But [now] you cannot do that. you need to have 51% . You need to pursue every group, even those who are not interested in politics.

DPP candidate Julian Kuo (on the right, wearing the number 5 badge) hoping for a 3rd term in office

In many parts of the island, its been a heated, ill humoured and bitterly fought campaign. Candidates are fighting for their political survival.

High ranking officials from the two major parties have campaigned with their party's legislative candidates, using very different tactics.

The DPP has focused on national identity and Taiwan's ability to withstand pressure from Beijing. They say if the KMT wins big, there's a danger the island will be "sold out" to China.

Its also pushed for a referendum, also to be held on Saturday, asking the public to support legislation to force the KMT to return state assets it says were illegally amassed while the party was in power for more than five decades.

For its part, the KMT has called for a boycott of the referendum - despite tabling its own, targeting alleged corruption by the government. The party has focused on the poll as a chance for voters to evaluate the poor performance of the Chen administration - focusing on the sluggish economy with the island trailing behind the other Asian "tiger economies".

But for candidates campaigning on the streets, its all about very local - rather than national policy issues.

"People care about the economy ..and also education" , said KMT hopeful, Diane Lee..aiming for a fourth legislative term.

"If you are not satisfied with life for the past eight have to come out for the future of the country. The KMT will have a big win", she predicted, "because the DPP did so bad".

. Kmt candidate Diane Lee

But while this election campaign has been heated and bitter at times, many members of the public say they’ve no interest in voting. In the last parliamentary elections, the turnout rate was just above 59%; this time round, it could dip to below 50%.

"The competition (for the elections) is very fierce…but the climate is very cold", said Lo Chi-Cheng, professor of political science at Soochow University. "I think we are going to have a historically low turn out."

My unscientific straw-polling of passers-by on a busy intersection in Taipei appeared to confirm that view - with more than three quarters saying they wouldn't vote. "Its boring. I don't care about the elections.. its too complex for me. I think the politicians are all trash. I don't trust them", said 25 year old Lee Shun-Ho, who also admitted he had never voted in any election.

"They still control the political power and brainwash us…" said Diamond Si Singlim, cycling past a KMT election van. But he had equally disparaging words for the DPP . "I wont go and vote", he said.

"The majority of Taiwan are sick of being played by these politicians. they are real opportunists. " "I'm not interested and judging the two main parties I'm not satisfied with either" said Veronica Wang.

"Taiwan can stand on the international stage because our economic power is very strong, but if we don't go continue to move ahead, we have nothing. We always focus on this politics issue, but economics, it's the most important thing… without it we don't have anything."

Apathy and voter discontent are high. A low turn out rate could also frustrate the efforts of election analysts gazing into their crystal balls trying to accurately gauge just how much impact the result will have on the crucial presidential race in ten weeks time.


Mac said...

Gone with the post-election frenzy: both parties appear solemn, if not weird particularly for the winner.

Fatigue sets in as you have said.

DPP deserves to lose while KMT definitely not deserves to win: a forecast of the similar mood for the next general election in UK-between Brown and Cameron?

Will Cameron worhship in front of Churchill's graveyard as KTM did at Chiang Kai-Shek's yesterday?

Laurence said...

Dear Caro,

I noticed your blog from the

Thanks for introducing Taiwan.
Being a volunteer of AnimalsTaiwan, I think that Taiwan is good at many aspects but it is not good at the animals welfare.

caro said...

yes, there are lots of problems with animal welfare..from grossly overfed pigs for religious festivals to poor care for dogs which are regarded as fashion accessories. Great to hear there are some people trying to do something to help.

thanks for your message

caro said...

hi mac, yes, its strange that both parties seemed as glum as each other.

the kmt was obviously trying really hard not to appear to be gloating.

Will be interesting to see how this all impacts on the presidential polls..if the defeat is enough to galvanise those who registered a protest vote to come back to the green camp

Prince Of HoLoh said...

hi Caro,
a. let me try to explain one more time that what I meant about the KMT Mandarin speaking inturder group those illegally fled to our land since 1945 while they lost to the communist in their state of ROC on mainland, are still trying so so hard to brainwash our people that only their language is the official one and their way of thinking is the orthodox way, totally an ignorant and insulting way to Truth and reality what a rediculus joke ~!
Because this Mandarin language didnt even exist till 500 years ago while we Majority Taiwan HoLoh people always understand we are the real oldest and Far East Asian's common ancester's direct blood line, long way back b4 the civilization started and actually the well known Han Emipre back in 200 BC was only one of the HoLoh Nation's Empires in the past 6000 years of our proud HoLoh nation history... So that's why I wanted to claim how foolish these KMT Mandarin speakings are as I said "they are still trying ... " yet not a chance now maybe We were massacred by them while the USMG did ignore this tregedy in 1947 Feb. 28, but no more as we had freed ourselves now.


Yet, as far as I am concerned pityfully almost no one in the West even, those are so into the Eastern culture and civilizations, yes, I mean almost none of them understand this serious facto and this agenda actually is the hard core one among the Taiwan domestic and the East Asia interantional politics that relates to what's been going for the past 350 years and the coming happenings among the Far East Asia states...

b. as I am specialized on this field of HoLoh 河洛study and that's why I commemted on the DPP politicians also the other afternoon, forwithout the HoLoh People's mojority power DPP had NONE of chance to take over the illegal regime of ROC on Taiwan in 2000 successfully and definately there is no chance again for us HoLoh people to support them as the DPP politicians have not a lillte piece of their hearts to feedback to our cries for HoLoh national dignity but only helping successfully on the minority's needs such as the Hakka and the earlier settlers ethnic groups...

but look at the result after this election not these of minority voters really acted thankfully to DPP to return the flavour back to DPP while we HoLoh people had been fed up with the DPP politicians and understand these took the power since 2000 were just oppertunists sucking our blood and never return to our community of HoLoh so, that's why they had choosed to leave them alone meaning we didnt even go to vote as we have to ignore those whoever pay no respect to us~~ 

No Majority people shall be disrespoected in a FREE sociaty, agree?  

Majority Rules, & We 河洛HoLoh too~~~ 

best regards,