Mon, Jan 01, 2007 - Page 3 News List

DPP divided over party's plan for joint elections

SPLIT DECISION While some legislators believe tandem polls would save money others are concerned a new system could benefit the KMT

By Peng Hsien-chun and Lee Ming-chien  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators are divided over the party's plan to push for the presidential election to be held in tandem with the legislative poll.

DPP Deputy Secretary-General Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said his party supports the proposal as it will not only saves taxpayers' money but also conform with public expectations. Although it may not necessarily serve the interests of the DPP, he said "winning the election is not the only concern of the party."

Tsai said a majority of party members were in favor of the proposal. He said he would try to convince dissenters to change their minds but that he respected their opinions.

DPP Legislator Wang Shu-hui (王淑慧) recalled the party's resounding defeat in the "three-in-one" elections of 2005, saying that this was why the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) backed the proposal.

As a new electoral system would be applied in the legislative election, Wang said she was worried that vote-buying would worsen if the two elections were held simultaneously and that their opponents would "need to buy votes only once."

Wang said she personally was against the party's plan unless the it could come up with a more convincing rationale.

DPP Legislator Chuang Suo-hang (莊碩漢) said he was not against the proposal and that it could be beneficial because the party's presidential candidates could create a coattail effect for the legislative candidates.

Chuang, however, explained the problem the new legislature, president-and vice president-elect would encounter in terms of the swearing in.

Chuang asked whether the new president and vice president, if they were elected ahead of time, would they wait until May to take the oath of office.

By the same token, if the new legislature was elected after the term of the incumbent expired, could the incumbent legislators extend their term until the new ones were elected, he added.

Lin Kuo-ching (林國慶), another DPP legislator, said he was in favor of the party's plan because he thought it would save taxpayers' money and benefit the party as it's presidential candidates could create a coattail effect.

DPP Legislator William Lai (賴清德) said he was concerned whether the government could effectively crack down on vote-buying and whether the party could produce strong campaign strategies.

Holding the two elections together, he said, might benefit the southern constituencies but wreck those in the north.

Meanwhile, KMT Secretary-General Chan Chun-po (詹春柏) said his party was in favor of holding the presidential and legislative elections together because it would save money.

Likening the two elections to marriage and engagement ceremonies, Chan said that they can be held concurrently if the bride and groom are poor.

Chan said his party will discuss the issue its Central Standing Committee meeting in the near future.

The KMT does not rule out the possibility of nominating the presidential and legislative candidates ahead of time, possibly in March or April.

KMT Legislator Chang Sho-wen (張碩文) said he believed holding the two elections together could save money but emphasized the importance of winning grassroots support.

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