The DPP's campaign strategy in the Hualien County commissioner by-election was thrown into disarray yesterday when the independent candidate it was going to support pulled out of the race a day after she declared her intention to stand for election.
Liu Chao-eh (劉詔娥), widow of former commissioner Chang Fu-hsiung (張福興), whose death in May necessitated the by-election, said it was pressure from the KMT that had persuaded her to withdraw.
Chang held the commissioner post as a member of the KMT.
Liu's announcement came as a shock to the DPP, which was going to declare its support for her during a top policy-making meeting yesterday.
Liu's three daughters and Hualien County Council Vice Speaker Lin Lien-ming (林連明) held a press conference yesterday to read Liu's statement on her behalf.
"My mother wanted to run in the by-election because she hoped to carry out my father's promises," said one of Liu's daughters, Chang Chun-yu (
"However, the KMT and the PFP have continued to persuade us to withdraw from the race," she said.
"We are under huge pressure from the KMT and the PFP beyond what we can endure," Chang said. "We don't have enough power to accomplish my father's wishes."
Chang said they had made the difficult decision after evaluating the situation and that they appreciated President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) for showing concern about the development of the county.
Chang said that they would like to apologize to all their supporters, but accused the KMT of harming her family during the party's nomination processes.
"The KMT's performance dis-couraged and disappointed my family," Chang said.
Chang refused to comment on which party or candidate her family would support in the election, which will be held on Aug. 2.
The KMT-PFP alliance nominated former Cabinet secretary-general Hsieh Shen-shan (
However, former Hualien County commissioner Wu Kuo-tung (
In response to Chang's accusations, the KMT said that Liu's decision to run for commissioner was part of an under-the-table deal between her and the DPP, in which the party promised to support Liu in exchange for her support for Chen in next year's presidential election.
The KMT denied it had pressured Liu into withdrawing.
"We didn't persuade Liu to pull out of the race," said Ting Shou-chung (
Ting said that the DPP was using Liu and her daughters to divide the KMT-PFP alliance to give the pan-green camp a chance of winning the traditionally pan-blue county.
"The DPP encouraged Liu to join the race by pretending to give her its full support. Then the DPP was going to nominate its own candidate because of grassroots opposition to Liu," Ting said.
"Since there will be three candidates to share the KMT-PFP alliance's supporters, the DPP may have a better chance to win the by-election," he said.