Taipei: Change in Blue vs. Green Voter Base?
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
June 16, 2014
Summary: The ruling and opposition camp candidates have positioned themselves for the Taipei mayoral campaign. Voter support appears to have shifted. But frankly any prediction is premature. How will Lien Sheng-wen and Wen-Je Ko prove themselves to Taipei residents? How capable and how trustworthy are they? This is probably the only real factor capable of changing voter support.
Full Text Below:
NTU doctor Wen-Je Ko, MD, will represent the green camp in the Taipei mayoral race. We already know who the blue and green camp candidates will be in the mayoral election for the nation's capital. Some media polls show Wen-Je Ko and Lien Sheng-weng running neck and neck. Others show Ko slightly ahead of Lien by a few percentage points. Taipei voters have always been more blue than green. This shift in public support has political observers wondering. Has the political climate in Taipei undergone a tectonic shift?
Objectively speaking, the outcome of the year end Taipei election, is less predictable than in the past. The main reason is the ruling blue and opposition green camp candidates are highly atypical. The two candidates are not your run of the mill politicians. Neither has any experience as an elected representative. Neither has any experience as a chief executive. Apart from their concern for politics, neither has ever conducted a grassroots campaign or worked in municipal government. Regardless of who is ultimately elected, Taipei City's future will be uncertain, filled with hidden dangers. This may be why Taipei voters have become extremely cautious. We hope they will be discerning in their thinking.
This is why the outcome of this election can no longer be predicted based on traditional blue vs. green voter support. We cannot rely on previous elections to tell us the outcome of this election. The reason is simple. Many people have changed how they see Taipei. Attempting to predict the future based on the past is unrealistic. Consider this. Blue camp candidate Ting Shou-chung and green camp candidate Yao Wen-chi both had solid public images. They campaigned at the grass-roots level for years. They both had excellent political credentials. Yet they lost their party primaries. Blue and green camp voters independently arrived at similar decisions. This means that most voters in the nation's capital are weary of "either/or" blue vs. green politics. They prefer someone new. They do not want the same old faces. Voters are psychologically weary. Naturally they are voting differently.
This constitutes a threat to the blue and green camps, one they cannot dismiss. Truth be told, blue camp Mayor Hau's record in Taipei was not bad. But his record of achievements may not help Lien Sheng-wen. This probably means that voters in the nation's capital are disappointed with the central government.
Meanwhile, it is too early to assume that Wen-Je Ko's momentum will automatically translate into majority support for the green camp. Wen-Je Ko was reluctant to join the DPP, from start to finish. The winner of the DPP party primaries was essentially forced to run against Wen-Je Ko, a party outsider. One could praise the DPP for its pragmatism. But a candidate endorsed by a major political party was no match for a novice who was not even a DPP member. Is this really something the DPP cares to brag about?
Political brands have lost their lustre. That means the year end election will be a new beginning. It will not be a traditional blue vs. green duel. It will be a personal duel between Lien Sheng-wen and Wen-Je Ko. To some extent, they can shed their blue or green political labels, But their personal character and political record will be magnified and put on display. This is what will determine the outcome of the election.
Consider Lien Sheng-wen's situation as a member of the blue camp. Wen-Je Ko expressed certain attitudes about his opponent. It is clear that the year end election campaign will be dominated by personal attacks against Lien Sheng-wen, They will attack Lien Sheng-wen's background, his experience, and his words and deeds. They are sure to be part of an unprecedented negative campaign. To use a current expression, Lien has already been subjected to a "ren rou shou suo" or "full body search." He has already been "fully exposed." Any informatiion that can blacken his reputation is sure to be paraded before the public over the next few months. Lien Sheng-wen must unify the blue camp, He must assemble a strong team. He must show voters a good report card. He must prove to the public in the nation's capital that he will be a superior "CEO" for the city. He is sure to be inundated by negative campaigning until he is black and blue.
The same is true for Wen-Je Ko. The party primaries must be regarded as a honeymoon period. His charisma and his image as a fighter make him unique in the green camp. He actually made it all the way without the support of any political party. He outshone all the green camp party princes. He even leads Lien Sheng-wen in the polls. But he will have a hard row to hoe in the future. He can no longer expect to become mayor of the nation's capital merely by shaming Lien Sheng-wen. He must show that he is a man of integrity. He must offer a blueprint for the city. He must assemble a team capable of governing. Victory in the Taipei mayoral election is possible. But if all he does is attack his opponent, he is likely to suffer a backlash.
The ruling and opposition camp candidates have positioned themselves for the Taipei mayoral campaign. Voter support appears to have shifted. But frankly any prediction is premature. How will Lien Sheng-wen and Wen-Je Ko prove themselves to Taipei residents? How capable and how trustworthy are they? This is probably the only real factor capable of changing voter support.