Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Final Countdown

* With 48 hours left before Taiwanese voters go to the polls, the "9-in-1" local elections on November 29 are heating up.

* The election results may change the political landscape of the island, and they can serve as a preliminary indicator of how the two leading political parties--the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) and the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)--will fare going into the 2016 presidential campaign, scheduled for March 2016. The winning party will have, at least, the momentum.

* Among the 22 cities and counties, six remain in the "too-close-to-call" categories--Taipei City, Taichung City, Changhua County, Yunlin County, Chiayi City, and Penghu County. The DPP is expected to make considerable gains amidst poor government performance.

* The biggest "prize" in the weekend elections is the mayoral contests in Taipei and Taichung. Since the KMT currently holds both of these seats, the pressure is on the ruling party to keep them in the Blue camp.

* Since these elections are local in nature, few would anticipate any "spillover" effect onto the economy or cross-Strait relations. While Beijing would like to continue "city-to-city" exchanges no matter who wins, the "1992 consensus" will remain a prerequisite. On the other hand, no major breakthroughs are expected either, especially if the DPP emerges victoriously Saturday night.

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