Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday campaigned in Jiaosi Township (礁溪), Yilan County, hoping to secure the first election victory since he assumed the party helm in May.
Su campaigned for Lin Hsi-chung (林錫忠), the DPP candidate in the three-way township chief by-election on Sept. 8, saying that Jiaosi needs a “new dress” to end the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) decade-long political domination in the town.
“While this town has been a KMT stronghold, we are confident of winning this election,” Su said.
The DPP also held its weekly Central Standing Committee meeting yesterday in the town known for its hot springs.
While the poll is only a local election, political analysts said a victory would be a good start for the DPP’s prospects in the seven-in-one elections in 2014, raising Su’s profile in the same way a series of wins in local by-elections boosted former chairperson Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) status.
A string of victories in local by-elections in 2009 aided the DPP’s comeback from an embarrassing defeat in the 2008 presidential election and affirmed Tsai’s leadership.
Other than Su, DPP heavyweights, such as Tsai and former premier Yu Shyi-kun (游錫堃), who served as Yilan County commissioner from 1989 to 1997, also campaigned in Jiaosi in the past week.
However, some critics say the Jiaosi election should not be considered the first “significant” election since Su took over the chairmanship, because the party “forgot” to nominate candidates in a pair of by-elections held earlier this month.
They were the by-elections for the heads of Hualien County’s Shoufong Township (壽豐) and Taitung County’s Haiduan Township (海端).
Chang Huai-wen (張懷文), the former chief of Shoufong who resigned after allegations of vote-buying, entered the race and was re-elected. Yu Chung-yi (余忠義) won the election in Haiduan after the previous chief was discharged for corruption. Yu and Chang are both members of the KMT.
Su was reportedly “furious” over the incident and has ordered officials be held accountable.
In response to a media inquiry yesterday, Su confirmed that mistakes had been made and that the party would carefully review the handling of election affairs.
However, DPP Department of Organization director Lee Wen-chung (李文忠), who is in charge of the party’s local organization, rebutted reports that DPP headquarters was not aware of the by-elections and forgot to put forth candidates, saying Su and the headquarters were already aware of the party’s failure to do so two months ago.
The DPP did not nominate a candidate in Shoufong because “everyone knew that no one stood a chance of defeating Chang Huai-wen in the election,” Lee said.
He added that the party had never nominated candidates in the elections for the Aboriginal township of Haiduan because of the DPP’s weak organization in the area.