Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The Missing Piece

* With the opposition KMT expected to produce a presidential nominee by July 14, the media attention quickly turns to Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je, who has hinted repeatedly at running for the 2020 race but has yet made up his mind. The ETRC Group believes Ko WILL run for president in 2020 and will declare his candidacy, at the latest, by early August.

* Ko is fully aware that his shot at the top political job in Taiwan is now, not four years later when a new generation of political leaders, among other, Taiyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tseng (DPP) and New Taipei Mayor Ho Yue-i (KMT), could be in line to challenge the presidency. Prospects are not particularly bright for Ko if he waits until 2024.

* If he does declare his candidacy, Ko will be confronted with a difficult choice: whether he would run as an independent (an islandwide write-in campaign required), or he would join a political party and be its nominee. The People First Party (PFP), or former Taiwan Provincial Governor James Soong's party, may be the most likely option.

* Becoming the PFP's presidential nominee is a double-edged sword for Ko politically. While it would save him the time and trouble of launching a write-in campaign, Ko would have to "inherit" the party's political liability. Furthermore, it may turn off voters since Ko would lose the appeal as an independent not embroiled in Taiwan's highly confrontational partisan politics. Therefore, as we believe Ko has made up his mind to run, he does not appear set on "how" to operationalize his plans. The next two weeks will be the key.

Friday, July 5, 2019

It's now a 100-meter dash...

* The KMT enters into the final phase of its presidential primary next week when public opinion polls will be carried out during 7/8-8/14. The winner will be confirmed and announced on July 15.

* Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu and the ex-chairman of the Foxconn Group, Terry Gou, remain the frontrunners, though the margin has been narrowing in recent days. It is now essential a toss-up, and either Han or Gou could wind up winning the nomination.

*  The real challenge for the KMT, however, will begin after the nomination. The party has always had problems uniting the different factions and personalities after a fiercely contested race. Ever since the James Soong-Lien Chan rivalry in 2000, the KMT has been its worst enemy, and intra-party unity has been an elusive goal that causes its demise in races, big or small. One would think the party has learned from its past mistakes, but there's no indication that anything is different this time around.

* Forging party unity is a priority, and it will be the difference in the January 11, 2020, showdown with the ruling DPP's Tsai Ing-wen. The polls won't open for another six months, and that's more than a lifetime in Taiwan's fast-food political culture. No matter who wins the KMT nomination, the campaign will be heated and emotion-laden, with the results impacting the island's future beyond 2024.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Let the healing begin!

* The ruling DPP will make its presidential nominee public today (6/13) at noon. Many believe the results will be close, and whoever gets the nomination will need to work doubly hard to bury the hatchet and move towards intra-party unity that has often eluded many political parties in the past.
* Compared with others, the DPP has done it better than others in the past because it had a cause--making democracy a realty in Taiwan-- and a clear goal--overtaking the KMT--shared by all rank-and-file members. However, that was before the DPP first assuming power back in 2000. Things are obviously different since the DPP was in power from 2000 to 2008 and since 2016. The parameters may not be the same anymore.
* With the DPP's nominee set, all eyes then turn to the opposition KMT. It will be another month before its presidential nominee is known. Given the severity of its ongoing primary among the contenders, the road to achieve and maintain party unity--at least until January 11, 2020--will be more challenging. But without unity, it will be an uphill battle for the KMT.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

贏局玩到輸

* 去年台灣縣市長選舉,國民黨獲得大勝,讓藍營的支持者興奮莫名,覺得2020的總統大選應如探囊取物,帶來台灣政壇另一次的政權輪替。雖然形勢看似一片大好,但彼此不停的「網內互打」,幾個國民黨的候選人相互攻訐,有增無解,口口聲聲喊「團結」,結果實際上是「一團心結」,也印證國民黨長期被外界詬病「內鬥內行外鬥外行」的本性。
*  原先民調領先民進黨的國民黨參選人,現在全部落後,讓近期曝光不多、「惦惦唊三碗」的台北市長柯文哲,得以後來居上,藍綠通吃,在民調中獨佔鰲頭。不管柯文哲拖延到何時才正式宣佈參選,明年的競選公報上一定找得到他的名字。
* 其實這樣的發展並不令人意外,只是台灣的選民恢復了理性、常規,只有政黨還沈浸在過去的勝利之中。不顧支持者勞師動眾,高雄市長韓國瑜環島造勢,選舉口號、順口溜滿天飛,但是「牛肉在哪裡」?雖然口口稱自己是被動、被邀請參加,但顯現出來的是「真的沒有想要做高雄市長」,所以明年不管誰代表國民黨參加大選,在高雄、乃至於整個南部,得票恐不容樂觀。
* 至於鴻海集團創辦人郭台銘董事長,轉型似乎並不成功,至今掌握不到選戰的節奏。有時講講政策,轉過頭又批評黨內初選不公,明顯地還沒有找到自己的定位。團隊還是充滿了個人色彩,看不到「各路好漢來相助」,一人身兼參選人、總幹事、主任委員,難怪短時間內聲勢未見快速提升。
* 不管輿論怎麼批評、支持者如何嘶吼「要團結」,國民黨的內耗戰還會持續地打下去,在提名確定前的這一個月,看不到「打到好打到滿」的狀況會有改善的可能。原來認為明年一月十一日必勝的局面,變成另一個遙不可及的「海市蜃樓」。

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Party Primaries Take Center Stage

* The ruling DPP gets ready for the final stretch of its presidential primary in the next ten days. There will be a televised policy platform on 6/8, and the opinion polls will take place during 6/10-6/14. The result should be available on 6/15.
* The opposition KMT, on the other hand, is still making the rounds among the five presidential aspirants. The polling will not take place until early July, with the nominee expected in mid-July. It remains essentially a two-man race between Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu and Foxconn Chair Terry Gou.
* Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je is still the wild card. It is believed that he will run because: (1) the two leading parties--the KMT and the DPP--have serious concerns over intra-party unity after their respective primaries, and (2) 2020 is likely the only opportunity that Ko has regarding a presidential bid. Things are much more complicated for 2024, with young and upcoming political stars like Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsai (DPP) and Party Caucus Whip Johnny Jiang (KMT). Ko knows his time is now, and he will launch a presidential campaign by August.