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Sun, Dec 02, 2001 - Page 22 News List

DPP loses support on the ground

REGIONAL ELECTIONS The city mayor and county commissioner polls reshaped the political landscape after the opposition parties scored significant victories in the north


KMT supporters celebrate the election victory of Jason Hu, the party's candidate for Taichung City mayor, at the party's Taichung offices yesterday.


The political polarization of Taiwan increased in the wake of yester-day's local elections, as the north and south of the nation gravitated toward the KMT and DPP respectively. The leadership of 12 out of 23 districts will change in late December when newly elected local chiefs are inaugurated.

The DPP, which suffered a degree of setback in the elections, will be influential in southern Taiwan, while the KMT will be dominant in the north.

Meanwhile, two remote counties on isolated islands will be controlled by the People First Party (PFP) and New Party.

A blue north

The DPP, which had ruled 12 of 23 contested districts since 1997, won only nine. The KMT, which previously controlled eight counties, was victorious in nine cities and counties yesterday. Independent candidates and the PFP captured two districts each, while the New Party only took Kinmen County.

In northern Taiwan, the KMT seized leadership from the DPP in six districts, including Keelung City, Taoyuan County, Hsinchu City, Hsinchu County, Taichung City and Taichung County.

Su Yeong-chin (蘇永欽), a professor of constitutional law at National Chengchi University, said yesterday during a radio show that with two major political powers -- one in the north and the other in the south -- the scene has been set for bitter future political confrontations.

In Keelung City, Hsu Tsai-li (許財利) gained the support of 58 percent of voters, beating incumbent DPP mayor Lee Chin-yung (李進勇).

In Taoyuan County, KMT nominee Chu Li-luan (朱立倫) won support from more than 55 percent of residents, defeating the DPP's Perng Shaw-jiin (彭紹瑾).

In Taichung City, almost half of the voters chose the KMT's Jason Hu (胡志強), a former foreign affairs minister. Analysts said the DPP's failure in Taichung City could be attributed to competition between the DPP's Michael Tsai (蔡明憲) and incumbent Taichung City mayor, independent Chang Wen-ying (張溫鷹). Tsai could have lost DPP voter support because Chang is a former DPP member, according to analysts.

Political watchers said the DPP's failure to deal with pressing economic issues had lost the party the support of many of its voters -- citing the poor DPP showing in Taichung County and Hsinchu City as examples.

Incumbent Taichung County Commissioner Liao Yung-lai (廖永來) yesterday handed the leadership over to the KMT's Huang Chung-sheng (黃仲生). Analysts said Liao's failure could be partly attributed to his opposition to a NT$50 billion investment proposal by the Bayer Group -- a Germany healthcare and chemicals group -- to establish operations in Taichung County in 1997. KMT officials said the Bayer setback had repercussions in that other European companies that had shown interest in expanding their operations in Taiwan were now reluctant to do so. "I'll try to help Taichung County residents, drawing on my experience in financial and business management," the victorious Huang said yesterday.

In Hsinchu City, Mayor Tsai Jen-chien (蔡仁堅) has experienced waning confidence among local residents after his failure last year to deal with environmental protection controversies linked to companies within the Hsinchu Science-based Industrial Park.

One of future Hsinchu mayor Lin Jung-chien's (林政則) primary political goals is to promote a merger of the administrations of Hsinchu City and the industrial park. Director-general of the Science-based Industrial Park Administration's (SIPA) James Lee (李界木) said yesterday that the policy would be completely supported by the park.

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