Bad news for the KMT, TPP & DPP in the Kaohsiung byelection–Taiwan Report News Brief transcript

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Summary: The EPA is looking to help with the garbage crisis, and for the rest of the show we’ll be going into the results of the Kaohsiung byelection, and why it was bad news for the DPP, even worse news for the KMT and no good terrible news for the TPP. But up first, headlines.

Headlines

An EVA Airways sightseeing flight focusing on the experience of flight that remains restricted due to the pandemic impressed passengers on Saturday as the pilot used the flight path to draw a contrail thumbs-up icon in the sky.
The Airbus A330 jetliner, decorated with the popular Hello Kitty character, recorded the flight path to pay respect to health practitioners amid the pandemic, according to the airline.

The number of Hong Kong residents awarded residency in Taiwan during the first six months of this year totaled 3,161, up 116 percent from the same period of 2019, according to the latest immigration statistics.

At 9:04 a.m. on Friday morning, aircraft spotter Golf9 on Twitter reported a US Navy Lockheed EP-3E ARIES II electronic warfare and reconnaissance aircraft appearing to fly over northern Taiwan.
Golf9 pointed out that it is extremely rare for a U.S. military aircraft to fly directly over Taiwan.
Less than an hour later, Beijing-based think tank the Peking University Institute of Ocean Research’s SCS Probing Initiative also reported on Twitter that the EP-3E had entered Taiwan’s airspace.
The think tank speculated that it could either be “an intentional operation, or a signal error” when the tracking sites picked up U.S., Chinese, or Taiwanese military aircraft, resulting in “some chaos.”

EPA looking to help with the garbage crisis

The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) has announced that it is exploring more diverse methods of refuse disposal, such as establishing five biofuel-fired power generators by 2024.
Last year, the nation produced 9.31 million tonnes of trash — including items not yet sorted for recycling — with 900,000 tonnes, or 31 percent, of trash sent to incinerators, EPA statistics showed.
If a way could be found to prevent the 900,000 tonnes from being sent to incinerators, it would greatly extend the service life of the incinerators.
That is important as both Taichung and Nantou are facing a crisis later this year as multiple Taichung incinerators will be taken offline at the end of their service life and refurbished.
Nantou is already in crisis, but Taichung will no later be able to help take up the slack until later next year.
Both Nantou and Changhua have tried to get new incinerators built, but not-in-my-backyard protests from locals continuously derail these plans.
Taichung currently has a biofuel plant, and the EPA plans to build biofuel plants in Taipei, New Taipei City, Taoyuan and Kaohsiung.
Though they don’t produce a huge amount of power–all five would power only 11,000 homes–but they don’t release the pollutants that incinerators do, so so far there has been no public backlash to them being built.
According to the EPA, they would also reduce carbon emissions by 22,200 tonnes per year.

The results of the Kaohsiung mayoral byelection

The Kaohsiung mayoral byelection results are in, and the news for all three parties was bad–but before I go into that, let’s look at the results.
To the surprise of absolutely no one, Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) of the DPP won by a large margin.
Chen got 671,804 votes or 70.03 percent of the total.
Jane Lee (李眉蓁) of the KMT came in second, with 248,478 votes for 25.90 percent of the total.
Gene Wu (吳益政) got only 38,960 votes and 4.06 percent of the vote.
According to the Central Election Commission, the percentage of votes garnered by Chen was the highest in Kaohsiung’s mayoral elections, beating former DPP mayor Chen Chu’s (陳菊) 68.08 percent in the 2014 race.
Among the 38 electoral districts in Kaohsiung, Chen scored an overwhelming victory against in 35 districts, including several in which the KMT used to have a strong foothold.
Voter turnout stood at 41.83 percent.
At his victory rally, Chen said pretty much what you’d expect, but stated: “I will maximize the DPP’s political value to build a clean government and move the city forward.”
But he also promised to reorganize the Kaohsiung government to include all talent, regardless of their political affiliations.
He also outlined four priorities — upgrade the city’s industries, adds new jobs, improves transportation infrastructure, and ensures cleaner air.
He thanked his rivals in the race, and they congratulated him on his win.
KMT Chair Johnny Chiang said, “Today’s election results should not be seen as a rejection by Kaohsiung citizens of the KMT, but as them urging us to work harder.”
“We will take action to win back the support of Kaohsiung’s citizens and win back Kaohsiung in (the) 2022 (local government elections),” he said.

The bad news for the DPP

From everything I just told you, most people would think this was a massive victory for Chen Chi-mai and the DPP.
A record-high 70% for the winner!
They destroyed the KMT even in many of their strongholds!
How could this be seen as anything other than an overwhelming success for the DPP?
Not so fast.
Going into this election, the DPP made it clear they were hoping to match the nearly 940,000 votes to oust Han Kuo-yu in the June recall vote.
They got just over 670,000, or 270,000 short of their goal.
That’s a huge shortfall.
And it gets worse.
That’s over 70,000 fewer people than voted for him when he lost in 2018 and over 320,000 less than voted for their candidate Chen Chu in 2014.
And he had the advantage of running in a traditional DPP stronghold and with the momentum following the recall.
In short, voters simply aren’t very enthusiastic about him.
True, some voters may not have come out because of voter fatigue after two elections this year already and because the result was already pretty obvious.
But the gap in the number of people voting for him and those past examples is still quite striking.
More than anything, he benefited from a complete collapse in support for the other candidates–not because of any excitement about him.
The DPP could have run a sock puppet, and it would have won–and it probably would have been more charismatic.
This is not good news for Chen’s future electoral prospects, which in theory in the somewhat distant future, could include the presidency by using Kaohsiung mayorship as a launchpad.
In spite of, by all accounts, Chen being smart, highly competent and very knowledgeable–he’s simply not a big hit with voters.
On the plus side for Chen and the DPP, however, is that they’ve won and now have a chance to show Chen’s skills as a mayor, and prove to voters he’s the right person for the job.
If they’re successful at that between now and 2022, they may be able to turn him into a strong electoral asset.
He’s got his work cut out for him.

The even worse news for the KMT

While the news wasn’t great for the DPP, at least they have the consolation of having won.
The news for the KMT, Jane Lee, Johnny Chiang, and Han Kuo-yu, however, was disastrously bad straight across the board.
They scored the lowest ever for a KMT Kaohsiung mayoral candidate at 26 percent, even worse than the 31 percent in the disastrous 2014 race.
She also got more than 200,000 fewer votes than the KMT did in that race and nearly 650,000 fewer votes than Han got in 2018.
Voters abandoned her and the KMT in droves.
For both the party and for Jane Lee, this election should have been an opportunity to create a nationally recognized younger generation political star–win or lose.
Her faked thesis scandal and disastrous electoral result, however, have dashed those hopes.
For former Mayor Han, and any potential hopes of running for KMT party chair next May, this is also a big blow.
He came out, in the end, hoping to rev up his “Han army” base to at least give Lee a respectable showing.
That base didn’t rev, and her showing wasn’t even close to respectable.
This suggests he may have lost all but the hardest core of his base, mostly the thousands who showed up at the final rally.
He’ll definitely be returning to his home in Yunlin County with his tail between his legs.
For KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang, this is yet another blow in a series of disasters.
This is a loss of historic proportions and follows on the historic ouster of their man Han in June.
His reform plans–much needed by the KMT–have been attacked by almost all of the party elites.
He’s now under pressure to resign, and one person interviewed on TV today said there is a movement to push forward a proposal during the party congress in September to change the election date for the party chair–in short to oust him.
It’s highly unlikely he has much clout left in the party, and he started out with very little, to begin with.
To salvage his chairmanship and get his reforms passed, he’s got his work cut out for him.

The no good, terrible news for the TPP

Meanwhile, on the Taiwan People’s Party front, the news was also terrible.
With their party caucus the only one untouched by the recent bribery scandal, there was some hope they could, if not win, at least make a respectable dent in the polls.
After all, there is a chunk of the population fed up with both of the major parties and with the thesis scandal imploding the KMT campaign, and some polls showing their candidate trailing the KMT by single digits it was reasonable for them to hope for a respectable double-digit result.
Nope. The voters weren’t interested.
Their candidate clearly failed to inspire, and his continuing to hold pan-blue, KMT-allied People’s First Party membership didn’t manage to draw off the hundreds of thousands that abandoned the KMT in this election.
This suggests, though doesn’t prove, some interesting things.
First, it suggests that the pan-blue camp’s popularity has really collapsed across the board–it isn’t just Jane Lee that is the problem.
She, after all only got 26 percent–while in January Han scored about 35 percent in Kaohsiung while running for president.
Party ID polling has shown the KMT has continued to slide, and this election seems to confirm that on the ground.
It also suggests that the recent pattern of poaching pan-blue politicians into the TPP isn’t working with voters either.
While this is only one test case, it may mean the TPP needs to recalibrate its strategy.
The result also showed that their chairman, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je campaigning in Kaohsiung didn’t seem to help at all.
One would expect a local city councilor to get at least the 4% that he did simply from the constituents in the district that elected him.
While it’s been obvious for a while now, this confirms that Ko’s star has fallen pretty hard.
It looks like for him and the TPP, they’ve got their work cut out for them.

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Image courtesy of the 陳其邁 Chen Chi-Mai Facebook page

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