Taiwan Brief: KMT women own central Taiwan, transcript

The very first primary of the 2022 electoral season was just completed recently.
Using opinion polling, the KMT chose sitting lawmaker Hsu Shu-hua as their candidate for Nantou County Commissioner, whose incumbent will be term-limited out.
Unless you’re the Froze, you’re probably thinking who cares about Nantou, and who the heck is she?
Hsu Shu-hua was frequently the MC at rallies for KMT Kaohsiung Mayoral and later Presidential nominee Han Kuo-yu.
She’s the one who frequently dressed up as Wonder Woman.
Now I’m sure some of you are going “oh, yeah…her”.
A few of you might remember she was one of the few KMT lawmakers who broke ranks and voted for marriage equality.
Nantou, while they voted for President Tsai in both of the last elections, tends to vote KMT for major local politicians, so Hsu has a very good chance of winning next year.
What’s interesting about the upcoming 2022 race is that there seems to be a consolidating of power by women in the KMT in central Taiwan.
Lu Shiow-yen is the mayor of Taichung, and Wang Hui-mei is the Changhua County commissioner.
In the primary, Hsu faced off against two other women, the only other legislator from the county, and the Nantou City mayor–a post Hsu used to propel her into her legislative seat, and will likely be a favourite to replace her in a by-election.
Straddling the centre of Taiwan and the south is Yunlin, also currently led by a KMT woman.
So, heading into the 2022 elections, incumbents in Taichung, Changhua and Yunlin and the new KMT candidate in Nantou will all be women.
Why almost certainly the KMT will be represented through this entire region by women in the next election I can’t say with certainty.
This appears to be mostly an organic development, though the KMT has some internal methods of promoting women within the party.
That doesn’t appear to have been a major factor here, though.
In fact I’ve seen no signs that this is any deliberate strategy by the KMT, the women involved or any social movement.
Another possible factor is that generally women vote for the KMT about five to ten points higher than men, who lean more toward the DPP.
That could mean more women are drawn to KMT politics, and may get a bit more support from other women in primaries and in the elections–but that would at most account for an imbalance, perhaps as much as two-thirds, not 100%.
I have another–but very speculative theory–to add to the pot.
This doesn’t apply to Lu in Taichung, she comes from Keelung and journalism background.
Both Hsu and Wang in Nantou and Changhua come from patronage faction backgrounds, and probably the Yunlin commissioner does as well.
Their entirely male predecessors in these factions were often caught up in scandals and corruption.
I know some, but perhaps many, of their male successors decided to forego politics, and/or may have too many skeletons of their own in the closet–plus association in people’s minds with their fathers and uncles–to consider going into politics.
So who in these traditional factional families is left to go into politics?
The daughters.
Surely they couldn’t be corrupt and get into scandals, could they?
That at least is more likely to be the public perception, regardless of the reality, which is of course they can.
So in a nutshell, my best theory is that this simply evolved from a series of different factors.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out going forward, and to see if it continues.

The DPP, meanwhile, is looking more likely to go with men.
In the Taichung race two of the three most widely tipped potential candidates are men, and the two big heavyweights already making moves in Changhua are also men.
I haven’t seen any speculation yet on either Nantou or Yunlin on the DPP side.

Image courtesy Facebook page of 許淑華

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