Sun, Mar 21, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Controversial victory for Chen

President Chen Shui-bian scraped home in yesterday's presidential election but his opponent Lien Chan refused to concede and will seek the election's annulment; the referendum failed

By Lindy Yeh  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian and Vice President Annette Lu announce their victory in yesterday's presidential election at the Democratic Progressive Party's campaign headquarters in Taipei last night.

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

Incumbent President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and his running-mate Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday won the 2004 presidential election against the rival ticket of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and his vice-presidential candidate People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) by a narrow margin of 29,518 votes.

But the nation's first-ever referendum failed to get the number of voters necessary to make the result valid. Only 45.17 percent of eligible voters took part. The Referendum Law (公民投票法) requires at least 50 percent of those eligible to cast votes to make the vote valid.

Voting, which took place from 8am to 4pm was peaceful with no major incidents reported, and only a few isolated cases of the electoral laws being broken.

Some 13,251,719 people voted in the presidential election, a turnout of 80.28 percent of the 16,507,179 eligible voters.

The DPP candidates won 6,471,970 votes, or 50.11 percent of the total cast, while Lien and Soong got 6,442,452 or 49.89 percent. Invalid votes totaled 337,297, representing 2.5 percent of the those cast.

Speaking before an angry crowd in front of the pan-blue camp's election campaign headquarters in Taipei, Lien refused to concede defeat and said the alliance would file a lawsuit against the result announced by the Central Electoral Commission (CEC), claiming the election was invalid and demanding the result should be annulled.

"Such a thin margin is the result of the uncertainties left by yesterday's gunshots the truth of which has yet to be clarified," Lien said.

"It was an unfair election," said Lien angrily. "Therefore, we will file a lawsuit against the election result. We demand the CEC seal all ballot boxes nationwide immediately and wait for the authorities to recount the ballots."

"Prepare to annul the election," he told the frenzied crowd.

Chen and Lu were shot while greeting supporters on a jeep in Tainan City on Friday. The police are looking for a 170 cm-tall man aged about 40 whom they suspect fired the shots.

Chen suffered an 11cm-long and 2cm-wide wound on his belly and had 14 stitches, while Lu was shot in her right knee.

The National Police Administration has offered a NT$10 million award for information that leads to breaking the case. The Lien-Soong campaign headquarters has offered another NT$10 million, while the Tainan City Government has offered NT$3 million.

CEC Chairman George Huang (黃石城) announced Chen and Lu's victory last night, despite Lien's refusal to concede.

"I hereby announce that Mr. Chen Shui-bian and Ms. Annette Lu have won the election," Huang said.

When asked if the CEC would overturn the result since Lien had vowed a lawsuit against it, Huang said: "They [the pan-blues] have to follow the regulations as laid down by the Presidential and Vice Presidential Election and Recall Law" (總統副總統選罷法).

According to this law, the pan-blue camp has to file its lawsuit with the Administrative Supreme Court (最高行政法院) within 15 days of the official promulgation of the result slated for March 26, and wait for the court's final decision after an investigation.

In his victory speech, Chen told tens of thousands of supporters gathered in front of the DPP campaign headquarters in Taipei that it was not a personal or party victory but a victory for all Taiwan's 23 million people.

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