A-gu blogged on a United Daily News article on the apparent rise in vote buying driven by the lucrative new legislative positions.

An article in the United Daily news indicates that vote buying in the new single member districts has become rampant due to the lucrative nature of the new seats. An unnamed local in Taichung tells the prices of the vote buying net.

A community leader (鄰長) — an elected official — may be chosen to lead the effort in his community (the smallest administrative unit in Taiwan, apparently), and is offered a one time payment of NT$300,000 (a marked increase over the old price of NT$50,000). These community team captains will then wait until about a week or two before the election and offer up to NT$1,000 for individual votes. Their timing will make them harder to catch in all likelihood.

The CNA offered a story on vote buying cases as well:

Taipei, Dec. 17 (CNA) Prosecutorial authorities have handled 3,597 vote-buying cases involving a total of 5,948 defendants during the run-up to the Jan. 12, 2008 legislative elections, Vice Justice Minister Chu Nan said Monday.

The tallies, which cover data available as of Dec. 14, show that the Taichung Prosecutors Office has handled the largest number of cases at 779, while the Tainan Prosecutors Office and the Yunlin Prosecutors Office have handled the second and third-largest number of cases at 351 and 314, respectively, Chu told the Legislative Yuan’s Judiciary Committee.

On cases related to the March 22, 2008 presidential election, prosecutorial authorities nationwide have handled 59 cases involving a total of 104 defendants, Chu said.

In light of the novelty and complexity of the vote-buying methods employed, Chu noted, law-enforcement authorities have deployed 4,162 informants to facilitate investigation of vote-buying cases related to the legislative elections as of Dec. 7.

Vote buying is an old habit in Taiwan’s elections, because elected positions are so lucrative (see my primer). The KMT cultivated vote buying at the local level during the 1970s and 1980s, and as a result, spending on key posts in irrigation associations or farmers cooperatives came to resemble outlays on US senatorial campaigns, so lucrative were the opportunities. With the legislature shrinking to only 113 seats, each seat will have that much more power. Given the advantages enjoyed by incumbents, legislators will be retaining their seats for years to come, giving them even greater control over the flows of government money to local organized crime, business, and clan coalitions, the foundation of Taiwan’s domestic political economy. Don’t look for any changes to the System for many years to come….

UPDATE: ESWN translates an article from the pro-Blue United Daily News (UDN) on vote buying tactics. Some nice detail here, and a discussion of how vote buying patterns have changed in the face of government attacks on them.