Chen Chu, the DPP Mayor of Kaohsiung, won her appeal that reversed a lower court decision to annul her victory in the Kaohsiung mayoral race.

An appeals court ruled Friday that the mayor of Taiwan’s second largest city was elected fairly, reversing the decision of a lower court.

The island’s High Court said the razor thin electoral victory of Chen Chu in the southern city of Kaohsiung last December was legal and that she could remain in office.

In June the Kaohsiung District Court had accepted the claim of opponent Huang Jun-ying of the main opposition Nationalists that the vote was unfair, nullifying her election by 1,114 ballots out of a some 770,000 cast.

Huang had said Chen’s camp smeared him by presenting a video on the eve of the poll allegedly showing vote-buying on a bus returning from his campaign rally.

In its ruling Friday, the High Court said Chen’s allegations of vote-buying by Huang did not force voters to necessarily choose her candidacy over his.

“Chen Chu’s campaign did not compel voters to vote one way or the other,” the court said.

The ruling is not subject to appeal.

At issue were allegations of vote buying that surface at the end of the campaign. The weird logic of the ruling is in response to the lower court’s ruling that originally annulled the election:

Judges decided that accusations Chen’s camp made regarding Huang Jun-ying (黃俊英), her main rival, on the eve of the election and on the polling day influenced election results.

The district court stressed in a news release that “Chen’s polling-day action of making public a videotape showing a man giving money to passengers on a bus and urging them to vote for Huang could be regarded as a surprise attack against Huang and thus to have made the election unfair.”

The night before the election Chen Chu and her supporters found evidence that the Huang camp had been vote buying, and trumpeted it to the public. That was after the election activities were supposed to have ceased, a seeming violation of the law.

According to a report in the Taipei Times about the vote buying, KMT candidate Huang’s campaign manager admits that he knew the vote buyer:

Su Wan-chi (蘇萬基), the executive of the KMT mayoral candidate’s campaign team, admitted that he had asked Yang, who also is from Yunlin, to help mobilize support for the candidate. But did Su give Yang NT$60,000 to pay voters to participate in rallies? If he did not, then where did the money come from?

Lin Ping-feng (林平峰), chairman of the Yunlin Association, admitted to prosecutors that the association rented 10 buses for Huang’s election-eve rally, but that it did not include the two buses Yang had organized for his mobilization activities.

However, Su, a former chairman of the Yunlin Association, had already admitted that he asked Yang to mobilize supporters for the rally, and he managed to fax the map of the rally to Ku.

I have a long revew of vote buying as a tactic in Taiwan here.

Did the vote buying influence the election? The numbers, as always, won’t support Blue fantasies. As I wrote last year:

In Kaohsiung, things were just the opposite. Chen’s Chu’s narrow victory was almost certainly the result of the presence of the TSU candidate in the race. In 2002 the DPP won by more than 25,000 votes, 386K to 361K, with no TSU or PFP candidates in the race. In 2006, the KMT gained 17K votes to reach 378K — which looks like a huge gain, until one recalls that in 1998 they spiked at 383K. Had they merely reached their 1998 levels, they would have won handily.

By the same contrast, the DPP’s 379K vote was 7K less than 2002. One might argue that the DPP has fallen off, except that the TSU took 6,500 votes. The 2006 TSU + DPP total is 386K votes. Hence Chen Chu’s showing was not some statistical blip or DPP failure, but the direct result of the TSU poaching votes from the DPP; the number of Green voters remains unchanged. Meanwhile the KMT gain was due entirely to success in getting out the vote, not to voters switching parties due to some putative disappointment with the DPP. Again, had the KMT reached its 1998 level, it would have won.

In other words, had the TSU not had a candidate in the race, Chen Chu would have won by a much bigger margin. The Courts split evenly on this one, but how screwed up is the justice system? News came out today that Lee Tai-an, sentence to 18 years for helping to murder his brother’s Vietnamese wife, got out on bail prior to his third and final hearing. Lee became a folk hero in the Blue community after getting busted for setting up an elaborate conspiracy to murder for insurance money, a conspiracy that also threatened the innocent passengers on the trains Lee helped derail. Claiming persecution by the justice system, he actually showed up as a celebrity at Shih Ming-te’s anti-Chen protest in Taipei, one of the many excesses that helped discredit those faux protests. Lee got out on — hold your breath — NT$20,000 in bail. That’s not an error, folks. $NT20K. I think we’re looking at yet another in the long line of KMT-loving criminals who will mysteriously manage to vanish from Taiwan and turn up in China…