Monday, January 6, 2020

Coming Taiwan Election

Many may not know that the US does not maintain "official" relations with Taiwan, only "de facto" relations. This stems from the Taiwan Relations Act.

One should also note that Chiang Kai-shek, President of Taiwan, died in 1975 before the elections in that year, and that Yen Chia-kan, his Vice President, took over. His term ended in 1978 when Chiang Ching-kuo, the son of Chiang Kai-shek, was elected President by the national assembly.

Thus, the 1969, and 1972 elections were held under Chiang Kai-shek, while the 1975 elections were held under Yen Chia-kan. The elections in 1980 would be held under Chiang Ching-kuo, and would elect 97 members.

During these elections, the Kuomintang (KMT) and their allies retained their crushing majority in the Legislative Yuan. For the first time however, 6 members were elected from the opposition. All officially independent (as only pro-government parties were allowed) this group, known as the Tangwai.

In 1983, 98 seats were up for election. Of them, Tangwai won 6.

In 1986, with 100 seats up for election, Tangwai won 12. By this point, Tangwai had formed a political party; despite such an action being illegal. The government, however, did not act, and as such, it would be more accurate to say that the party they formed, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won 12 seats. The DPP like Tangwai, were, and still are, opposed to reunification with China. They see Taiwan as a unique entity, compared to the KMT which wished to re-unify China under a non-communist system, and still views Taiwan as the Republic of China.

This is where I should mention that Taiwan did indeed have Presidential elections. They were held in the National Assembly (a different body from the Legislative Yuan). In 1948, Chiang Kai-shek won with 2,430 votes compared to 269 for his party-mate, Ju Zheng, a token opponent who ran to prevent acclimation. 1954 would see Chiang defeat Socialist Hsu Fu-lin, likely running for similar reasons, by a margin of 1507 to 48, with 20 invalid ballots. The margins would remain; 1960 saw Chiang win 1481 votes compared to 95 invalid ballots, 1966 saw 1405 vs 83 invalid ballots, and 1972 saw 1308 vs 66 invalid ballots. His son would win with 1184 vs 64 invalid ballots in 1978.

1984, however, would mark an unexpected but important year. While Chiang winning 1012 to 52 was not notable, what was notable, was who he chose as his Vice President. Lee Teng-hui. Lee had been the Governor of Taiwan (I've still yet to fully wrap my mind around how Taiwan operated during this period, but it seemed to effectively operate as a nation with only one province) and when Chiang won the Presidency, Lee won the Vice Presidency.

As such, when Chiang died in 1988, Lee became President.

With the ban on opposition parties lifted in 1987, the 1989 elections were the first to officially be contested by a truly multi-party slate of options. With 130 members up for election, the KMT directly won 94 seats, with 1 additional seat going to an allied party. 14 Independents were elected with various loyalties, but importantly, 21 members of the DPP were elected. This meant the party now passed the 20 seat barrier for status, and as such, could propose legislation.

In 1990 Taiwan had what was not known at the time, but what in hindsight was a very important Presidential election. Lee ran for re-election and won, 641 votes to 27 invalid ballots.

You should notice the number of votes being cast is decreasing. This is because all of these people originally elected in 1948 were getting older, and starting to pass away.

For this and other reasons, with the conclusion of the Presidential elections, Lee started moving to democratize Taiwan. He ended the effective state of emergency known as the "Temporary Provisions against the Communist Rebellion" and began to propose democratic amendments to the Constitution. By the end of 1991, every member who had been elected in 1948 had either died or resigned, leaving only the 130 members elected in 1989 in the Legislature. These two factors combined to lead 1992 to be considered the first truly democratic elections in Taiwan. Results were as follows:

95 - KMT - 53%
51 - DPP - 31%
15 - all others

This would be followed in 1995 by another round of elections for the legislature.

85 - KMT - 46%
54 - DPP - 33%
21 - NP - 13% (pro re-unification)
4 - all others

Lee himself would be up for election in 1996 in the first direct vote for President.

1996 prez
Lee Teng-hui - KMT - 54%
Frank Hsieh - DPP - 21%
Lin Yang-kang - IND - 15% (pro reunification)
Chen Li-an IND - 10% (pro reunification?)

This would be followed by an additional Legislative election

123 - KMT - 46%
70 - DPP - 30%
11 - NP - 8%
21 - all others

It wouldn't be until Lee's retirement, when he did not run for re-election in 2000, that the KMT would start to see losses.

2000 prez
Chen Shui-bian - DPP 39%
James Soong - IND - 37% (Peoples First)
Lien Chan - KMT - 23%

The DPP won its first election with Chen Shui-bian becoming President. James Soong, a former KMT member, ran as an Independent, and is widely seen as having split the "blue" vote; Blue being the party colour of KMT, compared to Green, the colour of the DPP. There were fears at the time Chen would declare independence, or that China would invade as a result; however neither of these happened. In the 2001 legislative elections, the DPP split in the pan-blue vote could continue

87 - DPP - 37% (pan-green)
68 - KMT - 31% (pan-blue)
46 - PFP - 20% (pan-blue)
13 - TSU - 9% (pan-green)
1 - NP - 3% - (pan-blue)
10 - all others
115 blue vs 100 green vs 10 others

The result was that while the DPP won the most seats, the pro-blue parties retained control over the legislature. In the run up to the 2004 election, Lien Chan, who had been VP under Lee, agreed to run with James Soong, leader of the PFP, as his Vice Presidential Candidate. The day before the election, Chen and Vice President Lu were shot. More details can be found here. Both Chen and Lu were fine after some hospital care. The results of the election were as follows:

2004 prez
Chen Shui-bian - DPP 50.1%
Lien Chan - KMT - 49.9% (James Soong as veep)

Given how close the election was, and the shooting, this caused quite a bit of controversy. Later in the year, the Legislature was elected as well:

89 - DPP - 38% (pan-green)
79 - KMT - 35% (pan-blue)
34 - PFP - 15% (pan-blue)
12 - TSU - 8% (pan-green)
7 - other pan-blue
4 - all others
120 blue vs 101 green vs 4 others

Again, the pan-blue coalition held a majority.

The shooting and controversy lead to some thought about how elections were handled in Taiwan, in particular the idea of recounts, and this may have ended up leading to an amendment to the constitution in 2005. The amendment would need to be passed by a National Assembly, and so, one was elected. Pan-blue parties won 45.9% of the vote, while Pan-green parties won 49.6%. That would not matter, however, as both the DPP and KMT supported the proposed amendments. This lead to a 249-51 majority for those supporting the changes.

The amendments would change the legislative electoral system, halve the size of the Legislature, change legislature election timetables to match the presidential elections, abolish the national assembly and have amendments decided by referendum, and changing impeachment procedures from the assembly to the courts.

As a result, Taiwan gained a new electoral system, similar to the one that I often propose. 73 members are elected by first-past-the-post in single member districts, while 34 additional members are elected on a parallel ballot, each voter casts two ballots, one for their seat, and one for the party list, with list seat being distributed based on the proportion of list ballots received.

By 2008, the KMT had become the more popular and dominant force in Taiwan. 

Ma Ying-jeou - KMT - 58%
Frank Hsieh - DPP - 42%

81 - KMT - 51% (includes co-endorsements)
27 - DPP - 37%
5 - all others

While this was a radical change, it could have been seen coming, as there had been widespread protests about President Chen's perceived corruption scandals. In 2012 the KMT repeated their performance, winning both the Presidency and the Legislature

Ma Ying-jeou - KMT - 51.6%
Tsai Ing-wen - DPP - 45.6%
James Soong - PFP - 2.8%

64 - KMT - 45%
40 - DPP - 35%
9 - all others

However, just as protests helped sink the DPP, they would sink the KMT. In 2014, protesters occupied the legislature, protesting what they saw as a trade treaty that would give the PRC (AKA 'red china' / the 'beijing government') too much sway over Taiwan. In fact, the KMT candidate had to be replaced after she made announcements that were perceived as being too pro china.

Tsai Ing-wen - DPP - 56.1%
Eric Chu - KMT - 31.0%
James Soong - PFP - 12.8%

68 - DPP - 44%
35 - KMT - 31%
10 - all others

The DPP not only took back the Presidency, but for the first time won control over the Legislature.

This takes us to the current day

On the 11th of this month, Taiwan will elect its President and Parliament. Polls suggest the DPP incumbent will easily be re-elected.

Polls suggest that Tsai will be re-elected with 50% of the vote, compared to 20% for Han, the KMT candidate, and 10% for James Soong. Having looked at how well the polls did in 2016 and 2012, the polls, with those numbers, tell me the following is possible:

60% - Tsai - DPP
30% - Han - KMT
10% - Soong - PFP

Looking at the legislature, and doing a similar judgement of polls, as well as quick estimates as to how that would impact the seats won, I've determined the following as somewhat likely:

60 - DPP
40 - KMT
13 - all others

This would lave the DPP in control of the chamber.

What is interesting is that polls suggest that the election was going to be competitive, with the KMT having a lead. When things started to change happens to line up with events in Hong Kong.

The KMT is seen as the "pro-china" party, while DPP is seen as "anti-china" and with "anti-china" sentiment en vogue due to grotesque human rights abuses in China, the DPP has reaped the rewards.

While Tsai's re-election is thus now seen as a given, the Legislative results are not so clear. TPP the Taiwan Peoples Party has emerged as a possible 'third force' outside of either the blue or green camps. They are only polling at around 10%, but Taiwanese polls don't take out undecided voters, and poll numbers for parties in Taiwan, like in Japan, have a tendency to suddenly jump or sink on election day; as such it is possible, though not likely, that TPP could do very well.

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