Though the opposition pan-blue camp won a clear and an overwhelming victory in yesterday's county magistracy and city mayoralty elections, there were other factors in play apart from straight party or candidate support.
In the northeast county of Yilan, where Democratic Progressive Party magistrates have been in charge for 24 years, the DDP candidate Chen Ding-nan (陳定南), also former justice minister, ended the party's dominance by losing the election by 8,610 votes to the Kuomintang nominee Lu Kuo-hua.
Lu's experience as Yilan City Mayor made him appealing to local voters compared to Chen, who has been serving outside of Yilan since 1989. Chen's nickname,"Mr. Clean (陳青天)," also did little to alter his party's scandal-troubled image.
Although the difference only accounted for 3.65 percent of the number of ballots, the switch in power is a significant indication of people's dissatisfaction with the ruling party.
Chen said in his concession speech that he was willing to shoulder all the political responsibility of the defeat and he expressed gratitude for local citizens' support. Despite the change in Yilan, Chen urged citizens to uphold and continue the "Yilan experience" he established since his term as a magistrate 24 years ago, which transformed the traditionally agricultural county into a region that focused on culture, environmental issues, and tourism.
In Chiayi City, another DPP stronghold for 22 years, the KMT-nominee Huang Min-hui (黃敏惠) defeated the DPP incumbent Chen Li-chen by some 12,000 votes. Although Chen was backed by numerous DPP heavyweights during her campaign, the last minute withdrawal of a local faction's support, in addition to Chen's lackluster performance, contributed to the discontinuation of DPP's local governance. Chen sobbed during her concession address and said she felt sorry for all DPP heavyweights who stumped for her and thanked the opportunity Chiayi residents offered her.
Another instance of an incumbent local chief being defeated in re-election was seen in Changhua County where KMT candidate Cho Po-yuan won the election by around 100,000 votes, nearly 15 percent of the total figure. The defeated DDP incumbent mayor Wong Chin-chu said in her concession address that she respected the election results and hoped Cho would lead the county "to a brighter future." Wong, however, attributed her failure to the Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corporation-related scandals that damaged the party's image.
In another central county, Nantou, the KMT successfully captured the magistracy post as its standard-bearer Lee Chao-ching received 45 percent of the votes. The victory however could be partly attributed to a split in the DPP supporting force.
The incumbent county magistrate Lin Tseng-nan quit his DPP membership to run as an independent and received some 60,000 voters' support. The DPP-nominee Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯), meanwhile, acquired 83,503 votes, which combined with Lin's votes, accounted for more than half of the total figure.
Having resigned his post as a legislator to join the election, Tsai blamed Lin for dividing the pan-green supporters' votes and attacked him throughout the campaigning process, while Lin said he was "disappointed with politics and would like to call an end to his political life unless under extraordinary circumstances."
A similar scenario, though with a slight twist, also happened in Pingtung County, where the DPP candidate Tsao Chi-hung (曹啟鴻) became the beneficiary of the clash between the KMT contender Wang Chih-shi and independent candidate Sung Li-hua.
Though only grabbing some nine percent of the total number of ballots, Sung played a crucial role in deterring Wang, who won nearly 41 percent, from taking over the post.
In the north of the Island, 41 percent of voters favored the KMT incumbent Keelung City Mayor Hsu Tsai-li (言午財利). Hsu's pan-blue challenger, People First Party Legislator Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄), appealing to voters to "abandon Hsu to support Liu" in his final stage of campaign, received around a quarter of the votes, a disappointing result that placed him third, after 31 percent of ballots were pocketed by the Taiwan Solidarity Union contender Chen Chien-ming (陳建銘).
Yunlin County granted DPP the only seat in all constituents that changed ruling party. Without local factions influencing the campaign, the DPP candidate Su Chih-fen (蘇治芬) broke the deadlock and won a majority 53 percent of votes to defeat the KMT contender Hsu Shu-po, who gained 44 percent of voters.
Wu Chun-li, the independent candidate running for Taitung County Magistrate, despite winning the election, could be suspended from duties after assuming office on December 20 if he fails to prove his innocence in a corruption lawsuit that has found him guilty after the second trial.