Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Taiwan Elections 2010

Has it really been 2 months and I've neglected to update this blog with our trips to Honduras and Guatemala? Wow, it really has.

Well, that's going to have to wait, because I have Taiwan Election 2010 Pictures!

Also see Jenna's election coverage here.

Elections are Saturday, November 27 for the mayorships of Taiwan's five biggest municipalities, as well as a host of lesser offices. Taipei is now absolutely covered with signs for various candidates, and the streets are full of campaign workers distributing flyers to passers-by as if to say, "Here, you throw this away".

Little cartoon avatars of the candidate are pretty common, as you can see with Popeye here. If it's common in Taipei it seems to be even more common in Kaohsiung, which is full of cute little Chen Chu cartoons.

In Kaohsiung, Tainan, and Taichung the mayoral races are not expected to be especially close. DPP candidates are generally expected to win election in Kaohsiung and Tainan, and the KMT mayor is expected to be re-elected in Taichung.

That leaves Taipei and Sinbei, the latter of which is not, properly speaking, a "city", but rather the suburbs of Taipei packaged together and newly incorporated to form the new largest municipality in Taiwan.

The incumbent mayor of Taipei is Hau Long-bin, seen here in improbable clothing on the side of a Taipei City bus (if I'm reading the Chinese correctly, it's about Hau's tireless efforts to prevent flooding).

Here's Hau with a local City Council candidate. It's common on election posters for local, lesser-known candidates to pose with a much more prominent member of the same party.

Hau's opponent is Su Tseng-chang of the DPP. It's universally believed that Su's real goal is to be elected president (he unsuccessfully campaigned for the DPP's presidential nomination in 2008), and many go so far as to say he entered the Taipei mayoral race expecting to lose, hoping the publicity and campaign organization would give him a stronger platform from which to challenge Ma in 2012.

If that's so, it looks likely to backfire for him. A year ago, nobody thought Hau's numbers would be as weak as they are now. Su looks very likely to actually topple Hau, which will put him in the position of either having to scuttle his 2012 ambitions or going back on his promise to serve out his term if elected. (I'm not certain, but I believe he'd be legally obligated to resign as mayor if he ran for president.)

Local candidate Zhou Ni-an's truck there has lots of political imagery. That's not only Su Tseng-chang in the right background, but former president Lee Teng-hui on the left. He's the former KMT president who has since turned his back on his former party and actively campaigns against it every time election season rolls around. On the right there's a pun, which is pretty common on election posters; it says something like "Wishing you well," which sounds like Zhou's name.

I don't live in the not-yet-existing Sinbei City, but as it comprises most of Taipei's suburbs, plenty of Taipei city buses whose routes are partly in Sinbei are festooned with Sinbei campaign advertising.

On the left is Sinbei mayoral candidate Chu Li-luan; on the right is a local candidate for, I believe, city councilor. They're trying so hard to convince us that they're cool, with their "MiB" getup.

Chu, universally referred to in the English-language media by his Anglo name Eric, is considered the KMT young handsome rising star right now. If you asked Taiwanese people to predict the likely KMT presidential nominee in 2016, you'd hear Chu's name more than any other.

Tsai Ing-wen is the chairwoman of the DPP and Chu's opponent for mayor of Sinbei. She's also generally thought to be planning to challenge Ma in the 2012 election, which means the DPP will be in an interesting position if Tsai and Su both win their respective elections.

I'll probably make another election-themed post in a couple of days once we know more of the fate of Mr. Hau, Mr. Su, Mr. Chu, and Ms. Tsai.