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Cablegate: The Changing Face of Voter Manipulation and Under-the-Table

VZCZCXRO1485
PP RUEHCN RUEHGH
DE RUEHIN #2346 2900709
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 170709Z OCT 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7164
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7367
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 1423
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 2157
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 6131
RUEHGZ/AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU 0608
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 8648

UNCLAS TAIPEI 002346

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AIT/W, EAP/TC, INR/EAP

FROM AIT KAOHSIUNG BRANCH OFFICE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV TW
SUBJECT: The Changing Face of Voter Manipulation and Under-the-table
Campaigning in Legislative Elections

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED, PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY

1. (SBU) Summary. Southerners have differing expectations of the
impact the new "single-member district, two-vote" election system
will have on Taiwan politics when it commences in the January 2007
Legislative Yuan (LY) elections. One political leader told AIT/K
that he believes it will make election manipulation more difficult.
A political analyst disagreed, arguing the new system will merely
increase the sophistication of vote-buying and other manipulation
techniques. End Summary.

Voter Manipulation Could Disappear
----------------------------------

2. (SBU) In a recent meeting with AIT/K, Pingtung County Vice
Magistrate Chung Chia-bing explained that in previous "multi-seat
district" LY elections, party workers manipulated votes through
under-the-table voter allocation agreements (pei-piao) in order to
get as many of their candidates elected as possible. Previously,
party operatives worked via informal channels to spread votes evenly
among multiple party candidates by telling their supporters to vote
for different party candidates in the same district. In some cases,
family members in a household would split their votes within their
extended family to help their preferred party elect candidates who
might otherwise lack enough local support to win an election. In
this election system, vote-buying served as a motivating tool to
convince party supporters to divide and allocate their votes to
ensure the election of multiple party members in each district.

3. (SBU) Chung surmised that under the new legislative election
system in which only one candidate will be elected in each district,
voters will likely shift to strict party line voting patterns.
Under the new electoral system there will be little incentive or
need to buy votes, or "pei-piao," since each party has only one
candidate running in an each district's LY election. Despite the
simplified new electoral system, Chung argued that public opinion
polling may no longer be reliable because increasing numbers of
voters refuse to respond accurately or at all to survey phone calls.
With inadequate samples, the public opinion polls will likely
remain as inaccurate as ever, he concluded.

Or Maybe Not: Campaigning With "Futures"
-----------------------------------------

4. (SBU) On the other hand, National Chung Cheng University Prof.
Soong Hseik-wen told AIT/K that competition in the reduced-seat
legislative elections is so fierce that efforts to mobilize voters
would go deeper into the grassroots electorate. Prof. Soong
explained that in Chiayi County, DPP candidates often work with DPP
county magistrates to hold meetings with local businessmen and
professional leaders to elicit their support. In these meetings,
candidates typically request campaign support in exchange for
promises to award bids in future projects and land transactions
after land rezoning. This wheeling-dealing serves as both a means
to solicit campaign finance contributions and a way to deliver votes
by these people to safeguard their interests. Explaining that this
kind of campaigning is very effective, Prof. Soong surmised that,
with so much at stake in the new single-member districts, the
phenomenon will increase in the upcoming January 2007 legislative
election campaign. It is difficult, Soong concluded, for legal
authorities to monitor this type of campaign tactic.


Thiele

Wang

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