The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won three of the four local by-elections today, including wins in traditionally Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) strongholds. It also increased its vote percentage in all four elections. Even in Hualien County, a KMT base, defeated DPP candidate Hsiao Bi-khim (left, holding bouquet) managed to raise the party’s share of votes from 29 percent to a record 41 percent (it’s probably a good thing that Hsiao didn’t win in Hualien; she is far too talented and connected to be locked down in local politics in Hualien, and her skills can be put to better use for the party at the central level).
As of this writing, two wire agencies — Reuters and The Associated Press — have reported on the vote. It is interesting to see how differently the agencies can report the news. First, here’s AP’s:
Taiwan’s ruling party suffered its third major electoral setback in two months Saturday, losing three of four by-elections despite the president's efforts to boost his sagging public support. The main opposition [DPP] won legislative seats in Hsinchu, Taoyuan and Chiayi counties, the Central Election Commission said. The ruling [KMT] won one seat in Hualien … The DPP’s strong showing is sure to boost its morale, allowing it to hit harder at President Ma Ying-jeou, especially his signature policy of forging closer economic ties with rival China.
Now here’s Reuters’; see if you can tell the difference:
Taiwan’s anti-China opposition party picked up two extra seats in legislative by-elections on Saturday, handing another loss to the ruling party that has pursued a detente with Beijing. The [DPP], which advocates Taiwan’s formal independence, won three of four seats, including one they held before, following months of popular discontent with the [KMT]. Sustained strength of the opposition could be a drag on Taiwan stocks, as investors might fear a freeze in recent moves towards greater trade a economic cooperation between Taiwan and China.
Aside from the “rival China,” AP remains neutral in its reporting and sticks to the facts. Reuters, however, gratuitously dramatizes the whole thing and shows its biases: The DPP is “anti-China” (a lie, except for the really deep-green, perhaps) while the KMT has “pursued détente.” In other words, the DPP is irrational, a “troublemaker” and “against” something, while the KMT is pragmatic and stands for “peace.” Then the wins are portrayed as a threat to the stock exchange and the proposed economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) between Taiwan and China. In other words, investors should “fear” wins by the DPP because the latter is supposedly bad for the economy.
In its first report, Kyodo, the Japanese news agency, also stuck to the facts, with a slight (and far less overt) spin in favor of the DPP.
It is said that beauty lies in the eye of the beholder; so does journalistic neutrality, it would appear.