The by-elections this weekend for two seats in the Legislative Yuan are seen as crucial for both the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the run-up to the next national legislative poll and next year’s presidential election.
Voters in southern Taiwan will cast ballots tomorrow for legislators in the fourth districts of Greater Tainan and Greater -Kaohsiung, in the first poll since the highly competitive special municipality elections in November.
The two legislative seats became vacant when William Lai (賴清德) was elected mayor of Greater Tainan and Chen Chi-yu (陳啟昱) was appointed as deputy mayor of Greater Kaohsiung.
With the departure of Chen and Lai, both of the DPP, their party was left with 31 of the 109 legislative seats, as opposed to the KMT’s 73.
However, despite its overwhelming majority in the legislature, the KMT is not taking the by-elections lightly, particularly after its string of losses in by--elections since President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) took office in 2008.
Addressing a rally in the DPP stronghold of Tainan last week, Ma, who is also KMT chairman, urged voters to support the KMT to avoid “one-party domination” in the electoral district.
Photo: Meng Ching-tse, Taipei Times
The battle in that district is between the KMT’s Chen Shu-hui (陳淑慧) and former Tainan mayor Hsu Tain-tsair (許添財) of the DPP.
In Kaohsiung, where voters also tend to favor the DPP, Ma has recruited former DPP member Hsu Ching-huang (徐慶煌) to run against Lin Tai-hua (林岱樺) of the DPP.
Hsu’s “loyalty” will not be a problem, Ma said.
Meanwhile, DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and other party heavyweights have been stumping in the south, calling for a DPP “sweep of both seats.”
The senior DPP figures have described the by-elections as “a prelude to the ever important legislative election and the 2012 presidential election.”
Tsai is in the spotlight in the by-elections, not only because of her position as party leader, but also because she is considered a frontrunner for her party’s presidential nomination and is seen as a potentially strong challenger against Ma’s re-election bid.
Regardless of who wins the by-elections, their terms will be short because all 113 seats in the legislature will be up for grabs again in a few months.
The next legislative elections are to be held in December, while the presidential poll is scheduled for next March. However, the Central Election Commission is considering a proposal to combine the two elections and will make a decision by June this year.
Two other legislative seats that are currently vacant will not be filled before the next legislative elections.
They were left vacant by KMT legislator Shyu Jong-shyong (徐中雄), who was appointed deputy mayor of Greater Taichung, and Lin Cheng-er (林正二), an Aboriginal legislator of the People First Party whose seat was forfeited after his conviction for election-related bribery.
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