Sun, Nov 30, 2014 - Page 1 News List

KMT trounced

BALLOT BLOWOUT:Voters dealt the ruling party a debilitating blow yesterday when they revoked its mandate in several key strongholds and gave it to the DPP instead, in what was seen as a referendum on Ma Ying-jeou’s presidency

By Loa Iok-sin and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporters, with staff writers

For the first time since 1998, the KMT has lost Taipei, after Lien garnered 609,932 votes, or 40.82 percent of the ballots, versus Ko’s 853,983 votes (57.16 percent).

“We want to send the KMT a warning,” said Lin Wen-chih, a 48-year-old film producer who voted for Ko. “Taiwan is an independent country. We don’t want the Nationalists to take measures that would have it eaten up [by China].”

Morale among the few hundred supporters gathered outside Lien’s camp was down since just after the counting began at 4pm, with Lien trailing Ko all the way through.

At about 6:40pm, Lien, the son of former vice president Lien Chan (連戰), emerged at his campaign office flanked by his wife, Patty Tsai (蔡依珊), and his campaign staff to give thanks to his supporters.

The crowd applauded as he made his way to the podium, where he conceded defeat and congratulated Ko after half of the results showed that Sean Lien lost by a landslide.

Sean Lien bowed to the audience six times, before saying: “I am really sorry for failing to meet your expectations. I take responsibility for the defeat. It’s because I didn’t work hard enough to win and I apologize.”

The beaten candidate encouraged his supporters to keep fighting for the ideals and values they fought for together over the past year of campaigning, adding that he would never abandon the original motives that drove him to run for office to serve the nation and society.

“Although we lost the battle, we did not lose the war. There are more formidable challenges ahead of us. We have to continue to seek support for the values and ideals we believe in. We will meet again another day,” Sean Lien said.

He did not elaborate on his future plans, but his supporters erupted in applause as he spoke, shouting: “Sean Lien, run for president.”

Throughout the race, Ko has enjoyed a comfortable lead against his KMT rival in the polls.

With Lien Chan a key figure in the development of cross-strait ties, Sean Lien’s political pedigree and the wealth of his family hurt him in the election at a time when President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) pro-China policy has left many worried about China’s growing influence on Taiwan and the public is increasingly concerned about the nation’s widening wealth gap, analysts said.

Sean Lien’s camp tried to mobilize pan-blue supporters in Taipei by sharpening partisan and ideological lines, but the tactics seem to have backfired. His attempts to highlight economic themes received more criticism than praise after many found them to be lacking in substance, contributing to the KMT receiving about 188,000 less votes than the 798,000 outgoing Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) garnered in 2010.

Yesterday’s results also saw the DPP take the big prize in central Taiwan after unseating Greater Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) of the KMT, who led the city for 13 years, and claim an upset in Taoyuan.

Electoral results in the outlying islands also changed the political topography, with the KMT retaining only one of the three islands.

In Penghu, the DPP’s Chen Kuang-fu (陳光復) defeated the KMT’s Su Kun-hsiung (蘇崑雄), ending the ruling party’s 20-year governance over the island county by winning 29,164 votes (55.34 percent), versus Su’s 23,533 votes (44.66 percent).

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