Wed, Apr 04, 2007 - Page 4 News List

KMT faces daunting task of choosing candidates


The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) will have a critical task on Monday with the closure of registration for the party's nominations for the year-end legislative elections, analysts said yesterday.

As many electoral districts saw more than one aspirant register for party nomination for the "single-member constituency" legislative elections, analysts said KMT executives will have a hard time choosing the party's candidates for those areas while maintaining party harmony and unity.

KMT Secretary-General Wu Duen-yi (吳敦義) said the party central will do its best to choose the candidates with the best prospects through mediation. For those districts where negotiations fail to produce a candidate, an institutionalized mechanism for selecting a candidate will be employed, he said.

"The mechanism can either be a series of public opinion polls or public opinion polls plus a vote by party members," Wu said.

Initial tallies showed that Taipei City's third district as well as Hsinchu City and the "plains Aborigines" community will be the most hotly contested areas, with four contenders vying for the nomination. Seven other areas have three hopefuls competing for nomination.

The year-end legislative elections will mark the first time that a "single-member constituency, two votes" electoral system is used.

As the number of legislative seats will be nearly halved from 225 to 113 under the new system, competition within major parties and between parties in the elections is expected to be intense.

Wu said the party headquarters would draft Justine Chou (周守訓) to run in Taipei City's Datong-Shilin district as he is believed to have the best chance of defeating the ruling Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) candidate. As five other KMT members have registered for the party primary in the district, Wu said mediation would be needed to pave the way for Chou's entry into the race.

"We are hopeful that the mediation can succeed so that the process can serve as a model for other electoral districts to emulate," Wu said.

Under the new electoral system, Wu said, it is imperative that a single party hopeful run for a single regional seat in each constituency.

"We should pull out all the stops to prevent defeated contenders in the party primaries from running on their own because a split vote among our grass-roots supporters would result in victory for someone else," Wu said.

As to whether any KMT primary loser is likely to quit the party and run under the DPP banner, Wu said the probability was very low.

Besides mediating among KMT aspirants, Wu acknowledged that the party must simultaneously give priority to consultations with its pan-blue ally -- the People First Party (PFP).

Legislative sources said mediating to produce a single pan-blue candidate in certain areas would be a tall order, particularly in Taichung County's Tali (大里) constituency and Kaohsiung City's Tsoying-Nantzu district.

While PFP executives prefer to field a single pan-blue candidate in disputed areas, sources said, their counterparts would like to resolve the disputes by holding public opinion polls or some other mutually acceptable way.

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