The battle for Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislative nominations began in earnest yesterday as hopefuls threw their names into the ring on the first day of registration.
Tensions were high in areas seen as friendly to pan-green candidates such as Taipei City’s Shilin (士林)-Datong (大同) electoral district, where contenders are hoping that a resurgence in DPP momentum could carry them into office.
About 10 electoral districts nationwide are likely to see stiff competition between two strong DPP contenders, discounting areas the DPP has defined as “difficult districts,” where the party plans to directly choose its candidate.
DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and senior party members are closely watching the nominations and have instructed local heavyweights to “facilitate” the nominations to avoid clashes.
Tsai said she hoped prospective candidates would utilize the party’s negotiation channels either before or after they register as a candidate.
“If this doesn’t work, we hope the candidates can choose to [peacefully] engage in the party primaries,” Tsai said at National Central University in Taoyuan.
In the Shilin-Datong district, where the DPP lost by 7 percent in 2008 — the lowest margin in Taipei City — former legislator Luo Wen-jia (羅文嘉) on Monday declared his intention to run, even though three others had already announced their candidacies.
The other Shilin-Datong candidates — former lawmakers Julian Kuo (郭正亮) and Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) and former Cabinet spokesperson Pasuya Yao (姚文智) — have already put up large advertisements and begun distributing fliers.
Aspiring legislators are also jostling in electoral districts in New Taipei City (新北市), including in Lujhou (蘆洲) and Tucheng (土城)-Sanxia (三峽), which are seen as friendlier to pan-green candidates.
A similar situation is emerging in Greater Taichung, Greater Tainan and Greater Kaohsiung, where hopefuls are basing their optimism on the upsurge in votes during November’s special municipality elections.
In Greater Kaohsiung, Chao Tien-lin (趙天麟), a city councilor who acted as spokesperson for Greater Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu’s (陳菊) campaign, was the first to register, but will likely face one or two contenders.
If negotiations between rival prospective candidates fail, the DPP would hold primaries in 32 electoral districts nationwide, the party said, adding it would directly choose candidates in 40 other “difficult districts” where it took less than 42.5 percent of the vote in the 2008 elections.
The DPP said 15 candidates have already registered. Officials expect the number to rapidly increase by Saturday, when local party chapters close registration.
The DPP is expected to conduct telephone polls for the primaries from March 21 through April 8.
The list of official nominees is expected to be made public on April 15.