Mon, Feb 02, 2009 - Page 3 News List

By-elections next month to act as litmus test: KMT

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

Legislative by-elections will be held in Miaoli County on March 14 and in Taipei City’s Daan District (大安) on March 28. These will be the first two elections since the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) took power in May, which KMT sources said was significant as they are expected to serve as a litmus test of the ruling party’s performance over the past 10 months.

Former KMT legislator Lee E-tin (李乙廷) from Miaoli County lost his seat in the legislature after the Taichung High Court’s December rejection of his appeal against a Miaoli District Court ruling that annulled his election on vote-buying charges in last year’s legislative elections.

Another former KMT lawmaker, Diane Lee (李慶安), resigned last month amid a dispute over her alleged dual citizenship.

The KMT has nominated Lee E-tin’s wife, Chen Luan-ying (陳鑾英), to run in the Miaoli by-election, while seven KMT hopefuls will vie in a party primary to represent the KMT in Daan district.

A senior KMT official said that if the KMT wins the two by-elections, it would show that its support base is solid, but if the result were the opposite, then the party would “have to learn about its deficiencies and address them accordingly.”

“In other words, the party will be able to assess its chances in the year-end mayoral and commissioner election by observing the results of the by-elections,” the official said.

The by-elections would be “a judgment by the voters on the KMT’s performance over the past 10 months,” KMT Legislator Shyu Jong-shyoung (徐中雄) said.

Shyu said the party won overwhelmingly in the two districts in January last year and that if the party’s votes in the by-elections are not as good as last year’s, “we will have to reflect upon ourselves.”

Lee Chin-sung (李錦松), director of the KMT’s Miaoli chapter, said voters were more interested in the slumping economy and have shown little enthusiasm about the by-elections.

Lee said, however, that Miaoli County Commissioner Liu Cheng-hung (劉政鴻) had a high approval rating and that as he was serving as campaign manager for Chen Ruan-ying, it should give her a boost.

Pan Chia-shen (潘家森), director of the KMT’s Taipei chapter, said the party would follow a nomination mechanism based on public opinion polls (70 percent) and party member votes (30 percent) to choose its nominee.

As Diane Lee beat her rival — the Democratic Progressive Party’s Luo Wen-chia (羅文嘉) — 66.8 percent to 32.46 percent last year, Pan said he was sure support for the KMT would still be strong even though the approval rating of the KMT administration as a whole has taken a major hit because of the slumping economy.

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