Thu, Feb 22, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Upcoming Keelung mayoral poll sparks pan-blue split over choosing candidates

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

The upcoming Keelung mayoral by-election in May sparked a pan-blue split yesterday as the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) insisted on electing a candidate through the KMT-People First Party (PFP) alliance, rather than yielding the nomination to the PFP.

The by-election, to be held on May 12, was called because of the death of Keelung Mayor Hsu Tsai-li (許財利), who passed away on Monday.

PFP Legislator Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄), who lost the Keelung mayoral election to Hsu in 2005, had expressed his intention to join the by-election.

KMT acting chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄), however, said KMT members, including Keelung City Council Speaker Chang Tong-rong (張通榮) and KMT Legislator Hsu Shao-ping (徐少萍), also intended to run.

"The KMT and PFP each has its preferred candidate. It's impossible for the KMT to nominate the other party's candidate without going through a primary or negotiation first," Wu said yesterday.

The KMT will hold a primary to find its candidate, and then negotiate on a final candidate with the PFP through their alliance, Wu said.

Former KMT chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) formed an alliance last month.

According to the agreement, the two parties should nominate candidates together in next year's legislative elections, and the parties should make concessions for each other in certain districts.

During a visit to Hsu's residence on Tuesday, Wu said those who had slandered Hsu should not be nominated to represent the alliance, but did not specify Liu, who had criticized Hsu.

Wu also denied ignoring the agreement and insisting on electing a KMT candidate, but acknowledged that the by-election was important for the party.

"The KMT and the PFP must cooperate in the by-election, but it's impossible for us to nominate a PFP candidate before a KMT-PFP nomination mechanism is launched," he added.

PFP spokesman Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) said Liu will definitely represent the PFP in the by-election, and that the KMT should negotiate with the party as soon as possible on the nomination mechanism to show its sincerity and prevent a pan-blue split.

KMT Taipei branch chief Pan Chia-sen (潘家森), who served as campaign director in Hsu's camp during mayoral election, declined to make further comments and said details of the by-election should not be discussed until after Hsu's funeral service.

The Public Officials Election and Recall Law (公職人員選舉罷免法) and the Local Government Act (地方制度法) stipulate that if a mayor leaves office before completing at least half the term, a by-election must be held within three months.

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