by Brian Hioe
Photo Credit: Ting Shou-chung/Facebook
EFFORTS BY Ting Shou-chung of the KMT to invalidate Taipei mayoral elections continue, despite the fact that a recount already affirmed Ko as the victor of 2018 Taipei mayoral elections. Ting alleges election fraud on the part of the Central Election Commission (CEC) and the Taipei City Election Commission, asserting that the recount process was also flawed in nature and so it, too, should be invalidated.
Ko won by a thin margin of 3,254 votes over Ting. This was upheld in the recount, which found Ko to have won against Ting by 3,567 votes. Ting originally announced that he would be filing a lawsuit to invalidate the results of the elections during the early morning hours of November 25th after Ko was declared the winner. At that point in time, Ting alleged that long lines at polling locations had affected voting and that as a result, the results of elections should be invalidated. Ting subsequently mobilized supporters gathered outside of his campaign offices to protest outside the CEC.
Ting later changed course to request a recount, rather than an invalidation of the election results. But after the recount was ruled to be in Ko’s favor, Ting returned to pushing for the invalidation of election results.
While the CEC has stated that the difference between election counts is the result of tabulation errors, Ting claims that this is the result of the CEC rigging the election in favor of Ko. Although legal representatives from the Ting camp were also present during the recount process, they allege that the fifty judges who oversaw the recount process did not actively provide oversight, with only some judges actively doing so.
Indeed, some of Ting’s apparent claims strike as outlandish, such as claiming to have collected over 43,500 pieces of evidence and to have over 1,000 witnesses regarding what he claims to be election fraud. If election fraud had been carried out on such a scale as alleged by Ting, this would be unprecedented in Taiwanese history except during one-party rule under the KMT. As such, it is highly unlikely that fraud carried out on such a scale would not have emerged earlier.
Nevertheless, what is probable is that Ting is simply attempting to cast as much doubt on the legitimacy of Ko’s mayoral election as possible. There would be several reasons why Ting seeks to do this.
First, apart from personal motives of wanting to save face, by making his election victory look like less of a defeat and instead the result of foul play, Ting may be motivated by a desire to draw a clear line between Ko and the KMT. While Ko originally was elected mayor for his first term in 2014 with the endorsement of the DPP, Ko has increasingly drifted away from the pan-Green camp and attempted to appeal to pan-Blue voters by orienting towards an ambiguously pro-China position.
With rumors that Ko has presidential ambitions, members of the DPP are concerned that Ko will run for president in 2020, potentially splitting the pan-Green vote in a manner that could potentially lead to a KMT victory. This has led the DPP to try and rebuilt its relationship with Ko after its widespread defeats in November elections.
However, to this end, it is also probable that Ting and other members of the KMT establishment wish to draw a clear line between themselves and Ko in order to prevent him from stealing pan-Blue votes away from the KMT. Ting and other KMT members may view Ko as dangerous because he is a loose cannon not beholden to the party establishment. Indeed, it is notable that during the Taipei mayoral debate, Ting emphasized drawing a clear line in the sand between the KMT and Ko, attacking Ko for his lack of any consistent stance.
Yet it is quite possible that Ting has few hopes of a recount resolving in his favor. Ting simply hopes to cast doubt on Taiwan’s democratic institutions by alleging what he knows to have been a fair election loss to be illegitimate. This would be with the aim of furthering partisan tensions between the pan-Blue and pan-Green camp in order that members of the pan-Blue camp have no common ground on the basis of shared adherence to democratic institutions but instead will dismiss any elections that the KMT does not win as illegitimate.
Although such a view is detrimental to the stability of democratic institutions in Taiwan, the KMT was, to begin with, the former authoritarian party in Taiwan. One can hardly expect individuals who were already prominent figures of the KMT during authoritarian times to have any interest in adhering to democratic institutions in post-authoritarian times. Instead, what they advance is simply a winner-take-all mentality which will not accept the results of elections that are not in their favor. Trying to carry out actions to convince the party base to also adopt such a worldview would be unsurprising.