Sun, Dec 08, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Celebrities do well in Taipei City

`MEDIA POLITICS' The success of candidates such as the PFP's Wang Yu-chen, a TV news show host, suggests appearances are increasingly important, an analyst says


Despite predictions from most political observers that "celebrity candidates" would not win many votes, most of the first-time celebrity candidates were elected in yesterday's Taipei City councilor elections.

Among yesterday's 52 elected councilors, all five so-called celebrity politicians were elected, which pundits said could be a sign that "media politics" is likely to have an increasing influence in future elections.

According to Emile Sheng (盛治仁), a political scientist at Soochow University, it appears that candidates' performances in the media have become more important than soapbox politics, canvassing and other traditional forms of getting the word out.

In Taipei's first constituency, the PFP's Wang Yu-cheng (王育誠), a well-known TV news show host and an 11-year veteran of lifestyle-type news reporting, received the greatest number of votes of the six candidates in the race. In his political debut, he won 25,615 votes.

A New Party candidate, Chang Chung-tian (常中天), who was once a well-known sports news anchor, was elected with 15,179 votes in Taipei's second constituency, winning a valuable seat for his ailing party.

Another winner in Taipei for the New Party was Hou Kuan-chiung (侯冠群), well-known for his impersonations of former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝).

In last year's legislative elections, the pro-unification New Party won only one legislative seat, in Kinmen, with 0.44 percent of the vote. All seven sitting lawmakers from the party, including Hsieh Chi-ta (謝啟大), Levi Ying (營志宏) and Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆), failed in their re-election bids.

This time, facing its first election since that defeat, the New Party played it safe and nominated six candidates for the Taipei City councilor elections and just one in Kaohsiung City.

Yesterday's election, in which five of its nominees were elected, showed that the party's nominating strategy appeared to have worked.

Actor Ou-yang Lung (歐陽龍) was elected in Taipei's sixth constituency -- the most competitive one in the city this year -- with 14,506 votes. When Ou-yang and his famous sister, singer Ou-yang Fei-fei (歐陽菲菲), campaigned for him, public opinion polls indicated that he was unlikely to win.

In the same constituency, another PFP politician fresh on the scene, Wang Shin-yi (王欣儀), who was formerly an anchorwoman for Power TV and a former assistant to disgraced PFP Legislator Diane Lee (李慶安), was elected with 18,248 votes, more than many of the senior councilors competing in yesterday's election.

Still, a few of the stars-turned-politicians failed to impress voters yesterday.

For example, the DPP's Aboriginal candidate for the one Aboriginal seat, Chen Yi-hsin (陳義信), failed. Chen joined the DPP this year after he lost his bid in last year's legislative election.

Hsieh Chien-hui (謝千惠), better known as "little Pan-pan" (小潘潘), who has been dubbed as wealthy celebrity Huang Jen-chung's (黃任中) "favorite adopted daughter," only received 2,363 votes in the fifth constituency.

Wang Fang-ping (王芳萍), a labor activist who had legalization of prostitution on her platform, received 839 votes in the fourth constituency.

"No matter how many votes we received, we think we won the election, since we were able to give a voice to [one of] society's difficulties in this campaign," Wang said in a press release last night.

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