Since June, Ke Wenzhe has led Hou Youyi in many polls, ranking second, and even jumped to first in some polls, seemingly surpassing Lai Qingde. From "accompanying the king" to "sitting on two and looking at one", Ke Wenzhe's rise is both situational factors and catalyzed by propaganda.

The first is Taiwan's political situation. On the side of the DPP, Lai Qingde was dragged down by Tsai Ing-wen's administration, and was burdened with political shackles such as soaring prices, photoelectric fraud cases, and tension in the Taiwan Strait. Then there is the Kuomintang, after the big victory in the 2022 election, the Blue Camp once again played a good hand to play a bad "fine tradition", first staged the "Guo-Hou dispute" split drama in the primary election stage, and after Zhu Lilun announced the recruitment of Hou Youyi, there was a turbulent current of local factions and the Party Central Committee fighting each other, Hou Youyi's ambiguous position angered a large number of Deep Blue voters, and the polls have continued to be at the bottom since late May, and have not yet come back to life.

Such a situation gives Ke Wenzhe's propaganda war room to play. First, by storming the DPP's degeneration, Ke Wenzhe attracted a large number of green, middle-of-the-road voters who were looking forward to ideal politics; Second, Ke Wenzhe dared to touch the deep blue plate, throwing out topics such as restarting cross-strait service trade negotiations and building the Jinxia Bridge, and continued the previous political tone of "one family across the strait", advocating a pragmatic handling of relations with Beijing, attracting some Blue Camp voters who hate Hou Youyi; Third, Ke Wenzhe's team is familiar with online propaganda and frequently publishes various meme videos, shaping Ke Wenzhe's witty, fresh and humorous and knowledgeable online image, attracting a large number of young voters.

For a while, across the blue-green poll map, Ke Wenzhe was in the limelight. But just as Lai Qingde and Hou Youyi both have weaknesses, Ke Wenzhe, who seems to have a good election, actually has hidden worries, that is, although there is a high-poll "air force", it is extremely lacking in a strong "army" with both blue and green, that is, the party's grassroots organization.

Taiwan media reported that the People's Party presidential candidate Ko Wenzhe (center) has a white paper on political views that involve advocating the resumption of negotiations on trade in services, which has attracted attention from all walks of life in Taiwan. (Courtesy of Taiwan People's Party)

The warning sign that "it cannot cross the south of Muddy Water Creek"

The recent turmoil over the chairman's speech is particularly obvious.

Since the start of the 2024 election campaign, Wu Zijia, chairman of "Beautiful Island Electronic News", has cooperated with several candidates other than Lai Qingde to hold a meeting with the chairman of the board of directors. As part of the election campaign, on-site registration, online viewership, audience sponsorship amount, and candidate Q&A performance are all indicators observed by all walks of life. Among them, Hou Youyi was originally scheduled to hold 3 sessions, but after the New Taipei session on May 5 and Kaohsiung on May 20, the third session was canceled due to the candidates' unsatisfactory on-site performance, and since then it has entered a sluggish state at the bottom of the polls; And Ke Wenzhe, who is optimistic about the outside world, held the first session on July 27 with the gesture of "sitting two and looking at one", which received an enthusiastic response from the whole network, but it was reported on the 7th that the Kaohsiung Stadium originally scheduled for the 9nd was canceled, and it will not be held again.

According to Wu Zijia, the reason for the cancellation was that the people did not sign up. It pointed out that the Kaohsiung venue opened for registration as early as July 7, but only 1 people registered for the last 1,800 seats, and even half of them were not satisfied, and he had already reported to Ke Wenzhe that "the online registration of the Kaohsiung field was not ideal", hoping to meet and discuss, but waited for 660 days without reply, so he had to send a message to inform Ke to cancel the Kaohsiung venue, and Ke also replied in LINE: "Of course, the registration situation is not good to cancel, we didn't pay, and there is no way." Apparently there was no objection to the cancellation of the event.

However, Wu Zijia's anger was ignited by the statement of the People's Party spokesman, who believed that the former did not improve the true registration status of Xiongba in the external explanation, but publicly insinuated that he "released Ke Wenzhe to help Gou", apparently trying to divert the focus. Wu Zijia therefore released a screenshot of the aforementioned conversation with Ke Wenzhe, and bitterly criticized "The whole Taiwan dares not to answer Ke Wenzhe or answer my phone, and the spokesman dares to come out to smear it, this rotten party itself does not have the ability to cross the south of Zhuoshuixi, and does not find fans and does not promote it by itself, which is too arrogant."

On May 5, the "Formosa E-News" released the latest poll in May, among the three presidential candidates, Lai Qingde ranked first with 29.5% support, Ke Wenzhe ranked second with 35.8%, and Hou Youyi slipped to 25.9%, ranking bottom among the three. (Formosa Newsletter page)

Of course, as far as the author knows, the Wuke conflict also involves other factors, which has led to the fact that neither side has any intention of rescuing Kaohsiung Field, which is not satisfactory, and let the conflict come to the fore, cutting off the possibility of cooperation in the future. But judging from the screenshot of the background of the ACCUPASS registration system presented by Wu Zijia, the Kaohsiung field registration is indeed miserable, and it is even more paradoxical compared with Hou Youyi's situation. Because when Hou Youyi Kaohsiung was held on May 5, "Beautiful Island Electronic News" had already made the latest poll of Hou Youyi's bottom, that is, the first Ke Wenzhe "death cross" for Hou Youyi announced on the 27th, and the Kuomintang has long been not the ruling party in Kaohsiung, but it can still mobilize a full number of registration results; On Ke Wenzhe's side, when the Kaohsiung session opened for registration on July 29, Ke was already a popular candidate for "sitting two and looking at one", but he was not even satisfied with half of the seats, which shows that Wu Zijia's so-called "inability to cross the south of Zhuoshui Stream" criticism is exaggerated, but it is not all groundless.

In the final analysis, grassroots organizations still play an important role. Although the Kuomintang could not conquer the county mayoral elections in deep green constituencies such as Kaohsiung and Tainan, it had a strong grassroots system of legislators, parliamentarians, and village chiefs in the local area, and could mobilize the army to fight when needed, which would lead to the registration result that Hou Youyi could fill up even at the bottom; The People's Party has the support of the third largest party, and even some of the second largest parties in polls, and the air force has performed brilliantly, but it is obviously extremely short of the army, unable to go deep into the grassroots level in the central and southern regions and carry out election mobilization, which will have the contrast between high polls and low registration.

Of course, many previous polls have shown that Ke Wenzhe has quite a lot of support in the central and southern regions, not only surpassing Hou Youyi, but even surpassing Lai Qingde in some places, and seems to be able to "eat all the north and the south"; However, judging from this turmoil, there seem to be not many "actionable powder" in the south without mobilization. And the election victory or defeat, to put it bluntly, or more votes to win, less votes to lose, Ke Wenzhe now the poll situation is indeed very good, but high polls can only show the success of the "air force" propaganda war, enough to mobilize the people to express their position in the survey, but can not be equivalent to having persuaded the people to go out to vote, and the latter often requires the local organization of the political party to mobilize strongly, with the "army" to urge the vote, in order to turn the poll into reality, otherwise it is easy to have the embarrassment of "10,000 people responding, one person is present", and from the lack of grassroots organizations of the People's Party, This will obviously be a big injury for Ke Wenzhe.

On June 6, according to the latest survey results of Taiwan's TVBS Poll Center, the support of People's Party candidate Ke Wenzhe soared by 18% in the past month, surpassing the blue and green candidates for the first time with 33% support. (TVBS News Footage)

The People's Party does not have the strength of blue-green grassroots organizations

Looking back at the changes in the grassroots organization of political parties in Taiwan, although it involves the transfer of blue-green plates, it is not far from a core operating logic: "patrons and attendants", that is, the "patrons" in power provide benefits and privileges in exchange for the support and loyalty of local "attendants", applied to political party organizations, that is, the Party Central Committee and local factions.

Generally speaking, the party central committee relies on local factions to gather votes and maintain power as much as possible, while local factions usually do not care about the party philosophy, but pay more attention to the monopoly and distribution of interests, so once the party central committee is weak, the two sides may move towards a state of "tail wagging dog" for power. From the Chiang Ching-kuo to the Lee Teng-hui era, the local factions of the Kuomintang have largely undergone the above-mentioned changes, that is, Lee Teng-hui, facing the political reality of the elite clique in the northern provinces and the rise of the Democratic Progressive Party, has greatly turned to the local factions for support, and at the same time indulged black money in various places to intervene in the election, channel interests, and form a gold power complex that the central government cannot easily shake, so as to consolidate his rule.

Today, although many local factions have split, the logic of the operation of Patron and Attendant still works. Basically, as long as the candidate for county mayor put forward by the political party wins, the power sharing of the four major sections will begin: the police system, land development, budget review, and local financial institutions. Among them, mastering the police system is equivalent to having the power to ban and shield; Land development involves the change of land use rights, bus route planning, river sand and gravel mining, etc., which can be described as a big hotbed for black gold operation; Budget reviews include utilities and grants, which will affect the public service and SMEs; Local financial institutions are involved in financing incentives and management and supervisor personnel, which are also popular venues for profit transmission.

On June 6, Ke Wenzhe (middle) visited the Lan Palace in Dajia Town, Taiwan, and was interviewed by the media. (Courtesy of Taiwan People's Party)

Take Zhang Rongwei, who is calling for wind and rain in the Kuomintang, for example, he is the head of the Yunlin Zhang faction, although he is a gangster, he was promoted to run for county council, entered the political arena at the age of 33, and then was elected as the governor of Yunlin County, and began to control local power sources such as water conservancy associations and agricultural associations, and built his own local kingdom. During Zhang Rongwei's tenure as the county magistrate, Yunlin's administrative efficiency was extremely high, because all important ministries were basically led by Zhang Pai, which could be described as a password and an action for the county government. Zhang Rongwei had a bad relationship with other Kuomintang Yunlin factions because he had been using his own people and monopolizing interests for many years, so that the DPP had a chance to divide, and finally Zhang stepped down due to the exposure of the fraud case, and the Zhang faction was not as good as in the past. But even so, the Zhang faction is still the largest faction in Yunlin, and the current county magistrate Zhang Lishan is Zhang Rongwei's sister, who not only inherited the family's political map, but also defeated the DPP candidate for county governor twice in Yunlin, keeping the KMT in power for 8 years.

To be fair, since the era when the Kuomintang was a single party, its local party organizations were the domain of local factions, and the local party departments that the party central committee could directly control were actually very limited, and basically without the support of local factions, the Kuomintang would lose its mobilization energy. But the same is true of today's DPP, which has been able to move from a small opposition party in the authoritarian era to a large ruling party, and one of the key reasons is that it has copied the KMT's logic of "patronage and attendant" at the local level, that is, it uses its own interest distribution model to divide and split the existing local faction map of the Kuomintang, turning it from blue to green, or at least to non-blue.

In fact, this phenomenon is not a special case of Taiwan, basically Southeast Asia, Latin America, Japan and South Korea and other countries, also rely on the local mobilization model of gold power for votes, to put it realistically, that is, buying votes is shameful but useful, and this is the confidence that Ke Wenzhe lacks today. To create a blue-green shared "patron and attendant" structure, Ke Wenzhe needs at least two elements: first, even if there is no ruling county mayor, the People's Party must have at least a large number of village chiefs, township mayors, councillors and legislators at the grassroots level to form the "army" organizational battle; Second, the People's Party must have huge funds and vested interests in order to mobilize the masses in a land war and attract all parties to expect post-election payouts.

Taipei Mayor Ko Wenzhe speaks at the 2022 Taipei-Shanghai Urban Forum (Twin Cities Forum). (Courtesy of Taipei City Government)

But alas, Ke Wenzhe has neither. The People's Party has only been established for a few years, and the nomination of local legislators is estimated to be no more than 20 seats, and there is obviously no strong enough "chicken" to challenge the blue and green. Therefore, it can also be found that although Ke Wenzhe did not retreat in the presidential election, he very much hoped that the Kuomintang would cede local seats, and even intended to use the current high polls to attract the "chickens" of the Kuomintang who were in civil unrest to take a gun and invite themselves to stand on the platform, so that he could parasitize the local "army" of the Kuomintang, free ride in the organization war, and make up for the hard wounds of the People's Party.

Then there is the issue of electoral funding and vested interests. Ke Wenzhe seems to have gathered sand into a tower and made amazing gains in small fundraising, but it is simply not comparable to the astronomical figures accumulated by the Kuomintang and the Democratic Progressive Party for many years in power, and the resources that can be mobilized are relatively limited. In addition, Ke Wenzhe has stepped down as mayor of Taipei, and Gao Hongan, the mayor of Hsinchu from the People's Party, has only recently taken office, and the distribution of post-election remuneration to attract all parties is quite insufficient, which will also dampen Ke's organizational battle energy. Therefore, he once made a gesture to win over Gou, apparently hoping that the latter would provide funds and benefits for blood transfusion, but Guo's ambition was even greater, and he directly wanted Ke Wenzhe to hand over the presidential nomination, otherwise it would not be a good fortune boy, which eventually led to a break in negotiations between the two sides.

Of course, the lack of an organized army does not mean that Ke Wenzhe will lose, after all, his 'air battle' results are indeed brilliant. However, from the reality of Taiwan's election, the underlying logic of the election battle competition is still the mobilization of gold flow and local factions, and Ke Wenzhe's high polls are at best proof that he has the ability to pass the first round of "air battle", but after entering the second round of "land battle", if Ke Wenzhe cannot form a certain degree of integration with the Kuomintang, and exchange various post-election coalition government promises in exchange for the Kuomintang's courtesy, and let the latter mobilize local factions to fully assist them in the election and carry out the "army" organizational war, his actual chance of being elected will be discounted by the table polls; Regardless of whether the KMT changes marquis or not, as long as the local faction of Lanying is successfully integrated by the Party Central Committee and is willing to participate in the election campaign mobilization, even if the KMT candidate cannot defeat Lai Qingde, it will have a very high chance of defeating Ke Wenzhe.

In the final analysis, Ke Wenzhe is of course a charismatic candidate, and the poll performance is also very bright, but the main drama of the land war in the election has not yet appeared, if Ke Wenzhe has never been able to persuade the Kuomintang to help, no matter how high the current polls are, I am afraid that the future will be hit back by the reality of gold power politics.

Why is Ke Wenzhe polled high?

Lai Qingde was dragged down by the shortcomings of Tsai Ing-wen's rule, Hou Youyi offended Deep Blue, and the Kuomintang was mired in civil strife.

Why is it so difficult for Ke Wenzhe to copy the blue-green local organizational battle model?

The People's Party does not have a large grassroots level, and Ke Wenzhe does not have a huge fund.

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