Fri, Apr 03, 2009 - Page 1 News List

DPP rift over Tainan poll grows

CHOICESWhile the DPP struggled to contain discontent over its choice for the Tainan County commissioner race, the KMT contended with complications in Taipei County

By Jenny W. Hsu and Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday rebutted accusations that Lee Chun-yee’s (李俊毅) nomination as the party’s candidate in the Tainan County commissioner race was a result of factional influences.

The accusation was made by former Presidential Office ­secretary-­general Mark Chen (陳唐山), who lost out to Lee on Wednesday. Chen said he would run in the election even without the party’s backing, but would not withdraw from the party.

“It is very irresponsible for anyone who did not get the nomination to besmirch the process,” DPP department of culture and information director Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) said, adding that although Chen received the most support in public opinion polls, the party made its choice based on other considerations.

He said that all the contenders were asked to sign an agreement that no matter who won the nomination, the losing contenders would fully support the winner. If necessary, the party would be happy to disclose the document, he said.

Cheng said the nomination was a two-stage process. In the first stage, Lee and his DPP counterparts, Chen and DPP Legislator Yeh Yi-ching (葉宜津), all proved to be more popular than the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) hopefuls.

However, in the second stage, Lee’s experience as a five-term legislator and his strong relations with local voters set him apart from the other two, Cheng said.

Cheng said that the next step was for the party to unite behind Lee.

Yeh declined to comment on her loss, but said that she respected the decision by party headquarters.

Asked for comment, former premier Yu Shyi-kun yesterday said the party’s decision to nominate Lee “was inappropriate.”

Yeh Guo-hsin (葉國興), a member of the party’s strategy team, threatened to give up his membership as a protest against Chen’s loss.

Cheng said the party headquarters would try to persuade him to stay if he canceled his membership.

Meanwhile, the KMT said it could delay the nomination of its candidate for Taipei County commissioner, acknowledging the difficulty of finalizing a candidate for the nation’s biggest county.

The KMT announced nine candidates for the year-end county and city government elections on Wednesday. It is scheduled to finalize the candidates for Tainan City, Hsinchu County and Taitung County next month and announce the candidates for the remaining nine cities and counties, including Taipei County, Taoyuan County and Taichung City in June.

Recent disputes over the low approval rate of Taipei County Commissioner Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋), however, complicated the situation and made it more challenging for the party to finalize its candidate.

KMT Secretary-General Wu Den-yi (吳敦義) said yesterday that Taipei County was “too important” for the KMT, and the party would not decide on a final candidate until after a thorough evaluation.

“We could delay the nomination process in cities and counties in which negotiations prove difficult because we have to make sure that we find the best candidates,” Wu said.

Chou kept a low profile yesterday, saying he would focus his efforts on the county’s development.

Nominees for Taitung County and Tainan County have also not been decided. In Taitung County, incumbent commissioner Kuang Li-chen (鄺麗貞) and Taitung County Council Vice Speaker Rao Ching-ling (饒慶鈴) have both expressed their determination to run and said that they would not give up even if they lost the primary.

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