Share this

Jul 8, 2009

The dangers of redistricting

Taiwanese blogger Richter, whose main focus is Taiwan-related maps of various kinds, has just posted about the redistricting that was implemented in October 1950, when Taiwan's administrative regions were redrawn from eight counties and nine cities into 16 counties and five cities.

These historic battles are a reminder of what may be in store for us as county and local government lines are redrawn!

There was quite a battle for where the seats of new county government's would be placed. Taichung's Fengyuan and Chinshui were pitted agianst each other, as were Douliou and Huwei in then Yunlin County.

Suspicions in Fengyuan that Chinshui was the favored location for the county seat caused Fengyuan leaders, such as village head Chen Shui-tan (陳水潭), to appeal to the Taiwan Provincial Senate. Chen praised Fengyuan's levels of education, hygine, beautiful weather and natural beauty before taking a swipe at Chinshui for being a coastal town subject to bad weather and akin to a coastal dessert.

Naturally, the Chinshui people were rather indignant, and put in their own appeal to the Taiwan Provincial Senate, which claimed the Fengyuan was full of it. They noted the coast's crucial importance both to the economy and the historic Han settlement of Taiwan, and also made note of that Chinshui was the true population center of the new county as well.

The Chinshui-Fengyuan competition is the root origin of the Red and Black factional struggle for control in Taichung County that has continued to this day, though this split is less pronounced than decades ago.

In the case of Yunlin, apparently most local representatives called for Huwei to be the seat of Yunlin's county government; it was established in Douliou anyway. That caused 5 districts in Yunlin's Beigang area asked to be integrated in Chiayi instead.

For those with a general interest in the problems of redistricting, consider the following books:

Bushmanders and Bullwinkles: How Politicians Manipulate Electronic Maps and Census Data to Win Elections

Redistricting in Comparative Perspective

How to Lie with Maps

Party Lines: Competition, Partisanship, And Congressional Redistricting

Elbridge Gerry's Salamander: The Electoral Consequences of the Reapportionment Revolution
Redistricting and Representation: Why Competitive Elections are Bad for America (Controversies in Electoral Democracy and Representation)

No comments: