Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Aug 23 2007

If the KMT wanted to win

Somebody asked me the other night who I thought would win the 2008 presidential election, Hsieh or Ma? I said Hsieh.

Here’s why: The DPP is simply better at election campaigning than the KMT. The DPP can take any kind of piss-poor governance record and stand it on its head, while the KMT can (and does) do the exact opposite, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in the last two elections. Poor advertising, poor choice of candidates, just bad management of the whole campaign. The DPP’s Hsieh and Su were forced to recognize that, in the face of a not-guilty verdict in Ma’s corruption trial, that the only chance they stood of defeating him was to put aside their considerable differences and previous conflict and run on the same ticket. If Wang Jin-pyng had agreed to run with Ma, the KMT would stand a very good change at winning. But Wang turned Ma’s offer down, time after time. Some say he was duped by false rumors of a guilty verdict for Ma. I’d think if he were that easily duped, maybe he shouldn’t be in consideration. Most likely, I’m guessing, was that tantalizing vision of his own presidential candidacy.

The DPP gave Yeh Chu-lan the party’s secretary-general position as a consolation prize after Hsieh was forced to pick Su over her. But over on the KMT’s side, Ma doesn’t have a grip on all the party factions, all laboring under the illusion of a certain KMT victory. Wang having basically sunk the KMT’s chances over a matter of personal pride, Ma picked Vincent Siao as his running mate. A better choice would probably have been former Kaohsiung Mayor Wu Den-yih, who, although he has his enemies, is at least on the radar and a good ten years younger than Siao. Perhaps some deal was made to pacify certain old-guard factions of the KMT with a VP position for Siao. I think I see Lien Chan’s icy touch here.

I still think the election is the KMT’s to win, if they really wanted to. The steps are pretty obvious. First and foremost, change the party’s Chinese name to remove the “China” part of it, and make it match the English “Kuomintang” moniker. It would be a big statement of their localization efforts, and they wouldn’t even have to change the English stationary and letterheads. In fact, I have half a mind to march into KMT headquarters and tell them “If you change your Chinese name to just the ‘Nationalist Party’, I’ll sign up right now.”

Another thing they should do, though this could have a limited effect at this point, is invent a “personal crisis” for Vincent Siao and get Wang Jin-pyng on the ticket as Ma’s running mate. Though I personally don’t see much difference between the two as to their abilities, Wang has the greater following in the center and south. The party assets issue needs to be put to rest as well. Also, though I know Ma speaks basic Taiwanese and understands the language, he really needs to improve on this front. The man has lived in Taiwan since he was a baby; he should certainly be able to speak better than, say, I can.

Finally, they need to spend a little money and hire a competent campaign director. Someone who actually knows what he or she is doing. The DPP have run brilliant campaigns both in 2000 and 2004, and there’s no doubt they’re prepared to do everything they can to win this time, and you can be sure that includes paying for a sleek, top-notch, international standard campaign, with moving slogans, compelling commercials and heart-felt exhortations designed to compel anyone and everyone to vote their way. Though the economic angle is a good one, the KMT’s clumsy, cheap and anachronistic appeals have not served them well in the past; it’s really time to retire them. The party needs to stop trying to “balance” the deep greens and play more to the center.

But will they do any of these things? The election is also the KMT’s to lose, and so far it looks like it will be too late before they wake up to that fact.

posted by Poagao at 11:17 pm  


  1. I agree for the most part, but I’d say the election is the DPP’s to lose. Ma blew it when he chose Siew. Also, Ma himself is proving to be a horrible campaigner. Here’s an excerpt of a comment I left in The View From Taiwan…

    …I think a big part of it is his [Ma’s] tendency where he feels he must call a press conference to address every single issue facing Taiwan society out there, not matter how trivial, or no matter how little he actually knows about the issue.

    He also couldn’t have chosen a more unappealing running mate. A proven loser. He [Siew] had his clock cleaned in 2000, along with Lien Chan.

    Ma will have to run the campaign of his life, and let’s face it, he is anything but a dynamic orator.

    The DPP, its faults notwithstanding, is by far the more politically savvy party.

    Comment by Prince Roy — August 24, 2007 @ 11:28 am

  2. […] (August 26, 2007): Poagao has an insightful piece on how the even though the 2008 election is Ma’s and the KMT’s to win, the DPP’s […]

    Pingback by The Cross Strait Times » Ma’s vindication and election dilemma — August 26, 2007 @ 10:35 am

  3. nice article. I agree Ma is terrible campaigner. How the heck did he win Taipei? He is looking terrible under the national spotlight. Ooh dropping the chinese from KMT is going to loose them a lot of deep blue voters. I dont think they can afford to loose them. I think KMT should agree with President Chen, and drop the “one-china” policy as the main KMT foreign policy agenda. It is quite obvious that the “one-china” policy is a failed policy for Taiwan. It also gives the DPP an automatic 10% handicap. I say drop the “one-china” policy and propose a “two-china” policy instead.

    Comment by aircow33 — August 27, 2007 @ 9:12 pm

  4. Who else are the deep blue voters going to vote for? I think they would gain more than they would lose.

    The KMT seems to be staying away from cross-strait political rhetoric, aside from economic aspects, which is probably a good idea for them.

    It’s not just that Ma isn’t good at campaigning, it’s the whole party. Ma won Taipei City’s mayorship the first time because he was seen as someone who would turn things around and improve the city. He won the second time because he was largely seen as having done that. But mayorship and nationwide elections are two different things, and the things that helped Ma win in Taipei are of limited use in a national election.

    Comment by Poagao — August 27, 2007 @ 9:53 pm

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