Mon, May 24, 2004 - Page 1 News List

DPP chooses legislative hopefuls

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Members of the Democratic Progressive Party walk up stairs to a voting center in Taipei yesterday to vote in the DPP's primary for December legislative elections.

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) held its primary for December's legislative elections yesterday, with 119 candidates vying for the 88 nominations for regional seats, and 13 candidates registered for the eight safest legislator-at-large seats.

Voting at 86 centers nationwide began at 9am and ended at 4pm. As of press time, the ballots were still being counted and no results had been released.

The voting was just the first stage of the nomination process. The DPP will conduct a nationwide public opinion poll later in the month to complete its nomination procedure for the regional seats. The list of successful nominees will be released on July 16.

Nominations for legislators-at-large -- which are allocated according to the percentage of the vote each party wins -- will not be decided until later.

Yesterday's hot weather was matched by the primary's hectic atmosphere. Candidates rushed between voting centers to shake as many hands as possible in a final effort to secure votes.

Tempers also became heated at some points, with incumbent legislator Shen Fu-hsiung (沈富雄) arguing with another candidate about his "love Taiwan" statement.

But in general the voting proceeded smoothly and the party reported a high turnout.

DPP Deputy Secretary-General Chung Chia-pin (鍾佳濱) said that between 70 percent and 80 percent of the 336,434 qualified members voted yesterday.

The Taipei City first constituency (north Taipei) and the Tainan County constituency are the most competitive, as both have nine candidates competing for five nominations, with several novices joining the race.

But rumors of vote-buying continued to plague the competition for legislators-at-large, which is divided between politicians and scholars.

The candidates in the political group include incumbent DPP caucus director-general Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) and veteran legislators Lin Cho-shui (林濁水), You Ching (尤清) and Hsu Jung-shu (許榮淑).

Most candidates in this group have been describing the vote-buying as a serious issue and said their campaigns have been affected by it. Candidate Hsueh Ling (薛凌) has traded accusations with incumbent Legislator Lin Wen-lang (林文郎) on who was the real "gold cow."

Yesterday the rumors got more extravagant: papers suggesting combinations of candidates to vote for and stacks of party membership cards were seen on the desks of certain candidates.

But Chung said that this was not necessarily evidence of vote-buying.

"In this primary we are also holding elections for other party officials, so to help the party members understand what votes they need to cast, the candidates have produced information sheets," Chung said.

"Although it is not customary for this kind of information sheet to appear in nationwide general elections, the public should not treat this as a sign of vote-buying," Chung said.

DPP Secretary-General Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) said that the party would discipline anyone found breaking the rules, but that no evidence of vote-buying had been found so far.

"The DPP is promoting a clean [legislative] election campaign, and it has to serve as an example with a clean in-party election campaign. The party's Central Standing Committee has also formed a task force to investigate vote-buying. If we obtain concrete evidence on vote-buying, we will discipline the rule-breakers severely," Chang said.

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