Sun, Feb 15, 2009 - Page 3 News List

ANALYSIS: March by-election a gauge of KMT, Ma’s performance

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

The legislative by-election for Taipei City’s sixth constituency next month will be a vote on the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) handling of the controversy surrounding Diane Lee’s (李慶安) dual citizenship and President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) administration’s overall performance, analysts said.

The by-election, to be held on March 28, comes in the wake of Lee’s resignation from the post last month over her dual-citizenship controversy. The Central Election Commission last week revoked its declaration of Lee’s election as a Taipei City Councilor and a legislator from 1994 to 2005. Lee now faces charges of tax evasion and violation of the Nationality Act (國籍法), which bars government officials from holding dual citizenship.

The controversy could have little impact on the KMT’s chances of winning the by-election for Daan District (大安), however, as it is a traditional KMT stronghold.

Still, the party could face much lower support from disappointed pan-blue voters and from a split resulting from the New Party’s fielding its own candidate, political observers said.

Jim Lee (李筱峰), a professor of Taiwanese culture at the National Taipei University of Education and a political commentator, said Lee’s failure to admit her mistakes and the KMT’s procrastination had upset many pan-blue supporters, whose disappointment could be reflected by the turnout at the by-election.

“The KMT will face difficulties in gaining much of the traditional support it usually received in the Daan district. It’s not unlikely supporters will choose not to cast their votes,” he said.

The New Party’s endorsement of former New Party legislator Yao Li-ming (姚立明) also casts a shadow as a pan-blue split would be inevitable, he said.

The KMT nominated veteran Taipei City Councilor Chiang Nai-shin (蔣乃辛) last week to confront the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) Taipei City Councilor Chou Po-ya (周柏雅) in the by-election.

New Party Chairman Yok Mu-ming (郁慕明) has refused to negotiate with the KMT and criticized the KMT for shirking its responsibilities regarding the Lee scandal.

Yok urged pan-blue voters to support Yao, who will run as an independent candidate, and “teach the KMT a lesson” by boycotting the KMT candidate in the by-election.

The KMT failed to act on Lee’s dual-citizenship issue until December, when KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) said the party’s Evaluation and Discipline Committee would hold a meeting to discuss the matter. Lee, however, announced her resignation from the party one day before the committee was to meet.

Rather than punish Lee, the Evaluation and Discipline Committee accepted her withdrawal and revoked her KMT membership. Wu did not offer a public apology until last week.

In addition to the KMT’s inaction, the Ma administration’s poor performance since taking office in May will also affect the performance of the party’s candidate in the by-election, said Shih Cheng-feng (施正鋒), a political commentator at National Dong Hwa University.

Shih said the by-election was the first national election since Ma became president. The KMT’s performance in the by-election will be a major index for the party in the year-end local government head elections, and both the party and the Ma administration should not take the outcome of the by-election for granted.

Given the strong pan-blue support in Daan, the DPP is unlikely to win the by-election, but it could use the vote to narrow the gap and gain more support, he said.

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