One day after mayor and county commissioner elections, attention turned yesterday to next year’s special municipality elections, with Taipei County Commissioner Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋) urging the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to begin the nomination process and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) remaining mum on whether she would stand for election.
The five municipalities holding elections next December are Taipei City, Taipei County — which will be upgraded and renamed Sinbei City (新北市) — and a merged Taichung County and City, Tainan County and City, and Kaohsiung County and City.
Chou, who early last month said he would run for the top job of Sinbei City, said yesterday the KMT should begin preparing for primaries as soon as possible, preferably after the Lunar New Year.
Chou said the nominees should not be selected through internal party negotiations.
Chou, whose approval ratings have been consistently low according to various polls, made the remarks in response to questions about a report in the Chinese-language China Times yesterday saying the KMT planned to nominate Vice Premier Eric Chu (朱立倫) in Sinbei City.
KMT headquarters yesterday said it was not yet time to think about the primaries.
“Our first priority is to look at the nomination system,” KMT Spokesman Lee Chien-jung (李建榮) said, adding that nominating the right people is half the battle.
The incumbent party in a county or city cannot count on winning, he said. Citing Taipei County as an example, he said before Chou was elected, it was long governed by the DPP, but that did not stop Chou from winning.
As the DPP could nominate former premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) in Sinbei City, the KMT must nominate someone who can defeat him to “secure the beachhead” for Ma ahead of 2012, Lee said.
Judging from the size of Sinbei City, Lee said the “consequences will be severe” if the KMT loses it.
“The KMT cannot afford a split [in the vote], as the DPP’s support base is similar [in size] to the KMT’s,” he said.
On two legislative by-elections to be held next month and four more next year to fill vacancies left by winners in Saturday’s polls, Lee said the KMT would do its best to prevent the DPP from winning enough seats to propose a recall of the president.
Meanwhile, at a separate setting yesterday, Su and Tsai were tight-lipped about their prospects for next year’s polls.
Su said he would respect the party’s nomination and public opinion, while Tsai said “it depends on the overall mapping and planning.” Neither Su nor Tsai elaborated.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STAFF WRITER
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