The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) will conduct a personnel reshuffle at the local level following its defeat in Saturday’s Lugang Township (鹿港) mayoral by-election, a party official said yesterday, adding the party would take the opportunity to reflect on the loss.
According to the director of the KMT’s Culture and Communication Committee, Chuang Po-chun (莊伯仲), the local branch personnel reshuffle had been scheduled to take place soon after the presidential election on Jan. 14, but was delayed because of the by-election.
The KMT lost the by-election to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) by a large margin. Although Lugang, which is in Changhua County, has long been a pan-blue stronghold, the DPP’s Huang Chen-yen (黃振彥) clinched a landslide victory over the KMT’s Tsai Ming-chung (蔡明忠), receiving 71 percent of the vote against Tsai’s 28 percent.
During the campaign, the KMT had estimated that support for Tsai was running at about 50 percent. To boost his popularity, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and vice president-elect Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) traveled to Lugang and campaigned for him.
The DPP has described the party’s decisive victory in the by-election as a vote of dissatisfaction with Ma in the wake of recent price hikes for fuel and electricity.
Political commentators attributed the defeat to public outrage against the Ma administration, which adopted controversial policies shortly after Ma won re-election.
Policies which have angered the public include the plan to relax the ban on imports of US beef containing residues of leanness-enhancing drugs, an alleged cover-up of bird flu outbreaks and the proposal of a “one country, two areas (一國兩區)” concept for cross-strait relations.
The KMT, however, did not acknowledge the defeat as a warning for the Ma administration.
KMT Secretary-General Lin Join-sane (林中森) said local voters’ unfamiliarity with Tsai, a local doctor with no political experience, was the main reason behind the party’s defeat, and the result bore no relation to public grievances over government policy.
Chuang said the KMT’s Changhua branch would present a report on the defeat in Lugang within a week, and the party would complete the personnel reshuffle once the report comes out.