Sun, May 06, 2001 - Page 1 News List

KMT reform leads to first primary ever

PARTY DEMOCRACY KMT members went to the polls for the first time yesterday to choose the candidates the party will field in December's legislative and local government elections



The KMT, Taiwan's largest political party, held its first party primaries yesterday to select candidates for the year-end elections, a step to further implement the party's democratic reform following its direct election for party chairman on March 24.

"Today's primaries are proof of the party's democracy," said Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) while casting his vote in the party's headquarters in Taipei yesterday morning.

Ma said that it is impossible to meet every party member's expectation to choose candidates by either party appointments or the primary, and hoped that "each candidate will respect the final outcome of the election."

The primaries took place in 395 voting stations in 12 of the nations 28 constituencies from 8am to 4pm yesterday. Candidates will be chosen in accordance with the ballots from party members and public polls taken by two companies last week. The two parts each constitute 50 percent of a candidate's overall score in the primary.

Based on the results of yesterday's primaries, the KMT will name its candidates for the year-end elections of legislators, county commissioners and provincial-level city mayors in a Central Standing Committee (中常委) meeting on Wednesday.

But some legislative candidates criticized the fact that the party had failed to finalize its nomination quota for each legislative constituency prior to the primaries, which they said will give the party leadership a chance to exert its influence over the nomination process just as it has done in the past.

Party officials responded by saying that due to diverse electoral conditions in each constituency, "the party will decide the quota according to the outcome of each primary."

Primary results

* Cheng Yung-chin (鄭永金), KMT caucus whip, will be nominated to run for the head of Hsinchu County

* Huang Chung-sheng (黃仲生) for Taichung County

* Cheng Wen-tung (鄭文銅) for Nantou County

* Chiang Ching-chien (江清馦) for Chiayi City

* Chang Fu-hsin (張福興) for Hualien County

Source: TT

Other analysts have warned that the KMT may face a split or exodus of members before the year-end elections because of the Executive Yuan's "black gold exclusion clause" (排黑條款) which imposes tough restrictions on candidates with backgrounds in organized crime who intend to run for public office.

The restrictions will present a dilemma for the KMT who will have to decide whether to field members in elections who may lose their electoral qualifications due to the clause even if they win a primary.

When asked if the party will lose some important members after the primary, Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) simply said, "everything has to follow game rules."

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