Mon, Mar 30, 2009 - Page 3 News List

ANALYSIS: Analysts say KMT was taught lesson

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) got a fail grade in Saturday’s legislative by-election in Taipei’s Da-an (大安) District despite its victory, and defeat could follow in the year-end local government head elections if it continues to disappoint voters with its poor performance, analysts said.

Chiang Nai-shin (蔣乃辛) of the KMT received 46,065 votes (49 percent), while the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) Chou Po-ya (周柏雅) polled 36,465 (39 percent) votes in the by-election. In a district that is traditionally a KMT stronghold, the 10 percent winning margin was a disappointment and a setback for the party, political commentators said.

The outcome of Saturday’s by-election reflected the public’s dissatisfaction with the government’s performance since taking office last May, said Wang Kun-yi (王崑義), a professor at National Taiwan Ocean University.

Wang said the public resented the KMT’s handling of former KMT legislator Diane Lee’s (李慶安) dual citizenship controversy and recent racist comments made by former Toronto-based Government Information Office (GIO) official Kuo Kuan-ying (郭冠英), but the government’s failure to solve the economic crisis was the biggest factor behind the narrow margin of victory in the by-election.

“Voters in Da-an District are die-hard pan-blue supporters and many of them are what Kuo called ‘high class mainlanders.’ The bad economy, rather than ethnic confrontations, affected their willingness to cast votes and support the KMT,” Wang said.

The by-election was held in the wake of Lee’s resignation in January over the dual-citizenship controversy. In the legislative election last year, Lee captured 66 percent of the vote to Luo Wen-chia’s (羅文嘉) 32 percent for the DPP.

The vote turnout for Saturday’s by-election was 39.12 percent, lower than the 42 percent who voted in the Miaoli legislative by-election on March 14.

Shih Cheng-feng (施正鋒), a political commentator at National Dong Hwa University, said the Da-an by-election was a “test” for the KMT and the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).

The party should take its failing grade as a warning sign and put in a better performance in order to pass the “midterm exams” in the year-end local government head elections and the “final exam,” the next presidential election, Shih said.

“Pan-blue supporters taught the KMT a lesson in both the Miaoli and Da-an by-elections, and the party could suffer more in the year-end elections if it continues to ignore the voice of the voters and remains an arrogant ruler,” Shih said.

He said the KMT underestimated its supporters when it nominated Chen Luan-ying (陳鑾英), the wife of former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislator Lee E-tin (李乙廷) for the Miaoli by-election after Lee was found guilty of vote-buying. Chen lost the by-election to independent candidate, Kang Shih-ju (康世儒).

The KMT should be more cautious about selecting candidates for local government head elections, especially controversial figures such as Taipei County Commissioner Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋) and Taitung County Commissioner Kuang Li-chen (鄺麗貞), he said.

Political analyst Wang Yeh-lih (王業立) of Taipei’s National Taiwan University said the by-election result was an encouragement for the DPP. However, the low voter turnout indicated that the public was disappointed with both parties and indifferent toward politics.

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