Taiwan’s upcoming midterm elections shall be a important second for the way forward for East Asian regional order. For the Democratic Progressive Get together (DPP), which presently controls each the presidency and the legislature, this midterm shall be a check of how properly it may possibly carry out in an election whereas concurrently coping with the continuing pandemic and the reopening of Taiwan’s borders. For the KMT, it’s a check to see if the opposition get together is ready to regain any of the electoral reputation it has seeming misplaced because the final midterm election 4 years in the past. Lastly, for the handful of small events working in mayoral races, will probably be a check of whether or not their candidates are merely potential spoilers for the 2 large events, or if they are going to have the ability to acquire a significant share of the votes.
In whole, there are 22 mayoral or county head elections scheduled for November 26. Many of those races shall be simple victories for the DPP or KMT. Right here we are going to clarify a few of the contested races, how they mirror a few of Taiwan’s present political challenges, and what their outcomes will say about Taiwan’s future as we glance to 2024’s presidential election.
No race shall be extra intently watched than Taipei’s mayoral election. As Taiwan’s capital, this race is commonly a predictor for future presidential candidates. The KMT has introduced that it’ll run Chiang Wan-an, legislator and great-grandson of Chiang Kai-shek. At age 43, Chiang is taken into account one of many KMT’s best-known youthful politicians.
The Taiwan Folks’s Get together (TPP) plans to run deputy mayor Huang Shan-shan, who has been groomed by present mayor and get together chair Ko Wen-je as a successor, even when there was some backlash towards Huang for not truly becoming a member of the get together, however remaining a member of James Soong’s Folks First Get together.
What makes the TPP and KMT’s Taipei race so tense is that they’re competing over the pan-blue vote and the reasonable impartial vote. Within the 2020 legislative polls, the TPP managed to win 11 % of the get together vote, giving them 5 members in Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan. Though their reputation has fluctuated over the past two years, so has the KMT’s. When two pan-blue events each nominate candidates and compete for the “not the DPP” vote, it has the potential to separate votes.
However, some public opinion polling reveals Huang siphoning younger voters away from the DPP, which might damage the DPP’s electoral plans as properly. Whether or not or not the TPP will spoil the KMT or DPP’s races shall be a key signal to observe for.
After months of rumors, the DPP lastly introduced it is going to run its COVID-19 chief, Minister of Well being and Welfare Chen Shih-chung. It might look like Chen needs to be in a robust place given the KMT and TPP’s competitors, however his and the DPP’s reputation is basically in flux as a result of Tsai administration’s efficiency in preventing COVID-19. Though the DPP’s dip in reputation throughout COVID-19 spikes is often momentary and rebounds after just a few months, Taiwan’s COVID-19 scenario throughout the election shall be important for the DPP. Chen is a robust candidate, however timing shall be key for his victory.
Hou You-yi, the KMT mayor of New Taipei, constantly polls as one of the well-liked politicians in Taiwan. His robust public assist throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has led many to marvel if he’ll run for president in 2024, however his choice to re-run for mayor could point out a reluctance to take action. KMT factional infighting additionally means that the query of who would be the get together’s 2024 presidential candidate isn’t going to be determined anytime quickly. Hou, nevertheless, has additionally fluctuated in reputation together with Taiwan’s COVID-19 spikes. Though he’s a robust candidate, varied COVID-19 associated points will make his reputation fluctuate up till election day.
The DPP is working former Taichung mayor and former Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung as its New Taipei mayoral candidate. Lin faces a steep problem towards Hou. The DPP could assault the pan-Blue camp over its alternative of Taipei and New Taipei candidates utilizing the framework of transitional justice. Hou is criticized because the police official who oversaw the sequence of occasions resulting in free speech martyr Nylon Deng’s self-immolation in authoritarian occasions. As a former mayor himself, Lin will have the ability to match Hou in expertise, however his relative stage of recognition in New Taipei will nonetheless make it a contentious race for the DPP.
Taoyuan is an efficient check case to see simply how a lot the KMT’s factional infighting has damage its means to perform as a unified opposition throughout a important election. In 2018, the KMT misplaced Taoyuan, a historic stronghold, to the present DPP mayor Cheng Wen-tsan. It hopes to retake Taoyuan by working former premier and vice presidential candidate Simon Chang.
Chang, the selection of KMT get together chair Eric Chu, was challenged for the nomination by former KMT get together spokesperson Lo Chih-chiang. Lo asserted that he wished to run, however Chu refused to appoint Lo, as an alternative tapping Chang. Inflicting additional confusion, earlier than Chang’s nomination was introduced it was reported that former KMT presidential candidate and former Kaohsiung mayor Han Kuo-yu was meaning to run for Taoyuan mayor.
The DPP has nominated present Hsinchu mayor Lin Chih-chien. Pan-Blue assaults on Lin presently revolve round allegations that he plagiarized his MA thesis, maybe hoping to duplicate a scandal that sunk the candidacy of KMT mayoral nominee Jane Lee throughout her by-election bid following Han Kuo-yu’s 2020 recall in Kaohsiung.
Metropolis Council Races
Metropolis council races current a problem for each the KMT and the DPP. Metropolis councilors are elected by means of a multi-member district (MMD) voting system the place voters forged a poll for his or her favourite candidate. Relying on the variety of seats within the district or metropolis council these with essentially the most votes are declared winners. Pan-Blue voters must decide between KMT and TPP voters, which may even result in splitting the pan-Blue vote. The DPP, nevertheless, isn’t proof against pan-Inexperienced competitors.
Small events just like the TPP and New Energy Get together (NPP) additionally hope to benefit from native elections to safe lower-level electoral success. In 2018, the pan-Inexperienced NPP ran over 45 candidates and gained 16 seats. Though proportionally lower than the DPP’s general variety of metropolis councilors, these seats did take away votes from the DPP. Though the NPP isn’t in as robust of a strategic place as they have been in 2018, they nonetheless will win votes from pan-Inexperienced voters who’re inclined to vote for a special choice from the DPP. The NPP may additionally pose a mayoral problem for the DPP within the northern metropolis of Keelung, the place the small get together has nominated metropolis councilor Chen Wei-chung to run towards the DPP and KMT.
The TPP additionally plans to run legislator Ann Kao in Hsinchu, in all probability leveraging Kao’s background as an government at FoxConn/Hon Hai and Hsinchu’s robust tech sector.
Though midterms in Taiwan are sometimes extra a mirrored image of native politics taking place to the microlevel of neighborhood relations, it is going to nonetheless be an necessary sign of every political get together’s stage of recognition. Whereas not as helpful as a significant elections get together poll vote, the relative variety of metropolis councilors every get together will get will present how robust the get together’s standing is come November.
What concerning the function of cross-strait relations? Do Taiwanese care about China throughout midterm elections? Public opinion analysis reveals that cross-strait relations do nonetheless consider throughout midterm elections by influencing which political get together residents are initially more likely to assist. Mayoral candidates have traditionally additionally used their attitudes towards Beijing as a technique to pull or push votes away. Contemplating China’s rising navy intimidation towards Taiwan and Xi Jinping’s anticipated speech on the Chinese language Communist Get together’s twentieth Nationwide Congress later this yr, which is far anticipated for the way he discusses Taiwan, it’s probably we are going to see extra China and cross-strait rhetoric from candidates this midterm than in earlier years.
In previewing the 2022 midterms, it’s exhausting to not assume again to 2018 and the DPP’s stunning defeat to the KMT in lots of important races, particularly Kaohsiung, which led to the rise of Han Kuo-yu and a turbulent two years for the DPP. However since 2020, the DPP has been in a robust place regardless of COVID-19. Though there isn’t any Han Kuo-yu sort determine working this yr, the DPP’s success within the midterm isn’t a certain factor, however it definitely is able to see nice success come this fall.