The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday dismissed concerns about President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) absence from the final day of campaigning before today’s township chief by-election in Changhua County, insisting that grassroots support for Ma remained strong despite public complaints about increases in gasoline and electricity prices.
Today’s vote in Lugang Township (鹿港) is the first local election since Ma’s re-election in January, and the competition between KMT candidate Tsai Ming-chung (蔡明忠) and Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) Huang Chen-yen (黃振彥) has been intense, with both camps having pegged it as a barometer of Ma’s support.
Ma and vice president-elect Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) have made several trips to Changhua since last month to campaign for Tsai.
Senior DPP politicians, including former chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), and former premiers Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) and Yu Shyi-kun have campaigned hard for Huang.
While Tsai Ing-wen traveled to Lugang to make a last-ditch campaign appeal for Huang yesterday, Ma reportedly stayed away because of grassroots concerns about the impact on the by-election of growing complaints against government policies.
In the absence of Ma and Wu on the final day, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) accompanied Tsai Ming-chung on the stump in the township.
Chuang Po-chun (莊伯仲), director of KMT’s Culture and Communication Committee, dismissed reports of grassroots concerns, saying the KMT had been sticking to its original schedule.
“President Ma and vice president-elect Wu have campaigned for Tsai Ming-chun over the past weeks, and the KMT is keeping to its original campaign schedule,” he said.
The by-election came as a result of former township chief Wang Huei-mei (王惠美) winning election to the legislature in January.