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Wed, Sep 12, 2001 - Page 4 News List

DPP fields joint candidate for Chiayi election

JOINING FORCES Local supporters voiced worries that if both candidates compete with the KMT's Wong Chung-chun, Wong might edge out both of his rivals

By Joyce Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Although the DPP held primary elections in April to select its candidate for the Chiayi County commissioner's race, the party yesterday succumbed to the realities of local factional politics, and agreed to field a joint candidate.

They are its own Ho Chia-jong (何嘉榮) or independent Chen Ming-wen (陳明文).

"Both Ho and Chen agree that opinion polls should be conducted by three pollsters on Sept. 19 and Sept. 20 to decide the joint candidacy," Wu Nai-jen (吳乃仁), the party's secretary general, said yesterday. He added that local supporters had voiced worries that if both Ho and Chen compete with the KMT's Wong Chung-chun (翁重鈞), Wong might edge out both of his rivals.

"If non-KMT political forces can cooperate and integrate [into a faction], we stand a better chance of winning the election," Secretary-General to the President Yu Shyi-kun said. He said that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) had also expressed concern that local DPP supporters' votes were likely to be divided, which could jeopardize the party's prospects of victory.

Cabinet Secretary-General Chiou I-jen (邱義仁) said that the move was intended to allow Chiayi's political factions to join forces and to develop sound party politics in the county.

Yu, however, yesterday denied that pressure from the Presidential Office and the Cabinet had been brought to bear on Ho since his candidacy should have long been guaranteed by the DPP. In response to Yu's denial, Ho said that it was a decision made by high-ranking party officials and, "I am not happy, but I am willing to accept the arrangement."

Reinforcing his confidence in winning the opinion polls, Ho told reporters that independent candidate Chen had placed a distant third in a recent opinion poll.

Pressed by the media yesterday, the DPP refused to confirm whether Chen, a former KMT member, would represent the DPP in the race if he beats Ho in the polls.

"We'll see what the poll findings are before we decide how to deal with the joint candidacy," Wu said, adding that Ho would not face any disciplinary treatment for withdrawing his sole candidacy for the party since the party's Central Standing Committee yesterday gave its go-ahead for the proposal.

Wu said the party's regulations allowed candidates to withdraw from the elections if the party's Central Executive Committee ruled not to dispute the decision.

Chen yesterday said that, if he wins the opinion polls, he might join the DPP if the party allowed him to run as its candidate. He also added that most of his supporters were actually DPP supporters and that he and Ho therefore shared a similar voter base.

A high-ranking DPP official, however, yesterday told the Taipei Times that, "Everything has been settled and the DPP's Ho is not likely to lose the candidacy," but refused to elaborate further.

Upon learning of the DPP's decision, the KMT's Wong yesterday said he suspected that a deal had been made between Ho and Chen in exchange for the joint candidacy decision, saying: "This whole poll thing is only fooling voters into believing some kind of fair arrangement will be made."

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