Lawmakers yesterday voted along party lines and elected Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱), both of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), as speaker and deputy speaker.
Wang drew support from KMT, People First Party (PFP) and three independent lawmakers, beating challenger Hsu Tain-tsair (許添財) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), who also had the backing of Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) legislators, by a vote of 68 to 43, with two invalid votes.
The invalid ballots were cast by two senior KMT lawmakers. The pair said they were so eager to vote for the “Wang-Hung” ticket, they mistakenly marked both their names in the same ballot, which contained the names of all 113 lawmakers.
The secret ballots for speaker and deputy speaker were held separately in the morning and afternoon.
Hsu Shao-ping (徐少萍), a five-term lawmaker and now a KMT legislator-at-large, and Tsai Chin-lung (蔡錦隆), a three-term lawmaker, said they regretted their “momentary carelessness.”
Wang dismissed the need for the party to punish the two, saying they had apologized as soon as they realized their mistake.
“Even immortals beat to the wrong rhythm when playing a drum,” Wang said, using a Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese) saying similar to the Western saying: “Even Homer sometimes nods.”
Despite the mishap, KMT whip Lin Hong-chi (林鴻池) said the caucus would refer the case to the party’s discipline committee for investigation.
“Even though it was an unintentional mistake, it was still a mistake,” Lin said. “Let there be no mistake in the deputy speaker election in the afternoon.”
However, the KMT was in for another surprise in the afternoon election, with Hung receiving one vote short of the expected 70 from the KMT’s 64 seats, the PFP’s three seats and the three independent lawmakers.
DPP Legislator Yen Yi-jin (葉宜津) received 43 votes, as Hsu did, equivalent to the number of the DPP’s 40 seats plus the TSU’s three seats. Someone had cast a blank ballot. Until late afternoon, no one had claimed responsibility for the invalid ballot. Wang and Hung said they had no clue as to who had cast the blank ballot.
“No matter who cast the blank ballot, it must have been an unintentional mistake as well. I believe it was not from the KMT side,” Hung said.
As the first female deputy speaker in the country’s history, Hung said she should be happy, but she “felt a bit sorry and a heavy weight in my heart” because she got one more vote than Wang.
“From an ethical perspective, that didn’t look right,” Hung said.
Wang disagreed, saying: “It was not an issue for me. I received more votes than the speaker when I was elected deputy speaker in the past.”
This will be Wang’s fifth term as legislative speaker. If he completes his four-year tenure, he will have served as speaker for 17 years — the longest in the nation’s history.