Wed, Jan 18, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Taipei mayoral election battle is heating up

EARLY DAYS The election for Taipei mayor may be in December, but various political figures are already putting themselves forward for party nominations

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Just over a month has passed since the local government elections and political circles have already plunged into heated debate of December's Taipei mayoral election.

A relatively quiet pan-green camp, in which so far only former Democratic Progressive Party legislator Shen Fu-hsiung (沈富雄) has expressed his intention to run for the position, pales into comparison with the political warfare that is already brewing within the pan-blue camp, as several Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) members are busy staking their claim to the party's nomination while the People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) also looks likely to join the race.

contenders

So far, potential pan-blue runners besides Soong include KMT Legislator John Chiang (蔣孝嚴), who announced his intention to run during a visit to the mausoleum of his late father, former president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), the former Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) minister Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) and Taipei Deputy Mayor Yeh Chin-chuan (葉金川), who is expected to run in place of the former Taipei deputy mayor Ou Chin-der (歐晉德), a close aide of Ma's and reportedly the mayor's preferred successor who decided not stand as a candidate.

The fierce rivalry among pan-blue alliance members, coupled with Ou's decision not to join the race, may make it more difficult for Taipei Mayor and KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to contain the power struggle within the camp and at the same time secure the resources he has built up during his administration.

The city's financial, administrative and personnel resources would be extremely beneficial should Ma become the KMT's candidate in the 2008 presidential election.

new mechanism

But the year-end mayoral election, political analysts said, may also provide an excellent opportunity for Ma to establish a new and solid nomination mechanism for the party.

"What Ma should do now is not get involved. He should take the chance to establish a nomination mechanism and allow the primaries to decide the final candidate," said Emile Sheng (盛治仁), a professor of political science at Soochow University.

The KMT already has an existing nomination mechanism and primaries with which to choose party candidates. The mechanism, however, has long been ignored as top officials often appoint their preferred candidates.

And as Ma is trying to reshape the KMT's image, Sheng said, there should not be a preferred successor. The continuity of his policies or ideas should not be an issue, either.

Wang Yeh-li (王業立), a political science professor at Tunghai University, agreed that the establishment of a new nomination mechanism for interested party members to follow is what the KMT really needs.

"I think voters in Taipei will accept any candidate as long as he or she goes through a fair nomination mechanism," he told the Taipei Times.

Political critic Liao Da-chi (廖達琪) of National Chungshan University, on the other hand, said a general look at the candidates who have already put their names forward highlighted the lack of promising talent in the pan-blue camp.

"Judging from the ages and images of the possible contenders, I think the camp needs to cultivate another political star in addition to Ma," she said.

While the party has not yet revealed the details of its nomination mechanism for the Taipei and Kaohsiung mayoral and city councilor elections, it announced a "sunrise plan" last Saturday that is meant to tighten the regulations for the party's primary elections.

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