Fri, Jul 13, 2007 - Page 3 News List

CEC to disappoint KMT on combined poll: official

NO GOING BACK The election body will reject the KMT's plea to combine next year's presidential and legislative elections as most members were against it, a source said

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Central Election Commission (CEC) will today turn down a plea by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to reverse its decision to hold separate legislative and presidential elections next year, an anonymous Ministry of the Interior source told the Taipei Times yesterday.

Unnecessary

The source said that 14 of the 17 CEC members had contacted the election body in reply to the KMT's plea, saying that convening another meeting to discuss the matter would be unnecessary.

The KMT's plea had the backing of only two commission members, Liu Kuang-hua (劉光華), and Vice Minister of the Interior Chien Tai-lang (簡太郎), a KMT member, the source said.

Separate

The CEC decided on July 6 that the presidential election would be held on March 22, separate from the legislative election, which it earlier decided would be held on Jan. 12.

But the KMT decided during its Central Standing Committee meeting on Wednesday to ask the CEC to combine the two elections to help save money and avoid inconvenience.

The KMT's request surprised CEC Chairman Chang Cheng-hsiung (張政雄), who said that the party had expressed no preference on the matter when the CEC solicited opinions from political parties before making its original decision on July 6.

"We asked all parties whether they supported the presidential election being held along with the legislative elections on Jan. 12, but the KMT didn't give us an answer," Chang said.

He added that the KMT instead asked the CEC a question: "Why didn't you consult us when you decided the date of the legislative election?"

No preference

Chang said that the CEC therefore assumed that the KMT did not have a preference.

He said that the Democratic Progressive Party replied that it would respect the CEC's decision, and the People First Party, Taiwan Solidarity Union and Non-Partisan Solidarity Union all said that they were against combined elections.

New president

Chang added that reversing the previous decisions on the dates for holding the legislative and presidential elections could also be difficult because even if a new president is elected in January, the president-elect will not assume the presidency until May 20 even if the incumbent president is unable to fulfill his duties for some reason.

Noting that the current term of the president will expire in May, Chang said that holding the presidential election four months before the end of the incumbent president's term will not be beneficial in terms of political stability.

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