The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday said it hoped that a victory in the Jan. 26 legislative by-election in Greater Taichung would create momentum in the same way a by-election win lifted the party in 2009.
“This will be an important election to answer President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and his Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] on their non-response to the people’s voice,” DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said in Wurih District (烏日), Greater Taichung.
The party held its weekly Central Standing Committee in Taichung, with party heavyweights attending campaign activities to show support for candidate Chen Shih-kai (陳世凱).
The by-election is to fill a post in the second electoral district left vacant by former Non-Partisan Solidarity Union Legislator Yen Ching-piao (顏清標), whose status was revoked after he was found guilty of corruption.
The electoral district, a traditional KMT stronghold, includes the Greater Taichung districts of Shalu (沙鹿), Longjing (龍井), Wurih (烏日), Dadu (大肚), Wufeng (霧峰) and part of Dali (大里) and is home to about 220,000 voters.
Chen, 35, will be up against Yen’s son, the 36-year-old Yen Kuan-hen (顏寬恆), who was nominated by the KMT, in what will be a tough campaign, given that the DPP has historically trailed the KMT by 20 percent in the constituency, Su said.
Chen “is basically running against Yen Ching-piao,” whose family has dominated the local political scene for decades due to its close ties to the Dajia Cheng Lan Temple (大甲鎮瀾宮) and other local connections, a local campaigner said.
However, the DPP and Chen both said they believed he could win, because Ma and the KMT were unpopular because of their performance over the past year.
“We have reason to be optimistic, despite the many factors working against us, such as vote-buying,” deputy campaign manager Li Chin-hsiang (利錦祥) said.
A low turnout rate, which has often been the case in past by-elections, would likely benefit the KMT because it has more sophisticated grassroot networks, Li said.
However, a win is still within reach and the campaign hopes that a victory will inspire the DPP, Li said.
It could have the same impact as DPP Legislator Liu Chien-kuo’s (劉建國) maiden win in a legislative election in Yunlin County, which was regarded as the catalyst for the DPP’s comeback from its dark days after losing the 2008 presidential election in a landslide, Li said.
Liu’s win sparked a series of victories in local elections and then-DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) saw her popularity soar, going on to eventually become the party’s presidential candidate.
An upset win by Chen would be seen as the first step in Su’s call for the “four changes” of “changing policies, replacing the Cabinet, replacing the legislators and replacing the president.”
If Chen won, the DPP would pull even with the KMT in Greater Taichung, with both holding four of the eight legislative seats, former premier Yu Shyi-kun said yesterday.
That was why Su and the DPP have been campaigning hard in the constituency. Su is scheduled to speak at five rallies and attend street canvassing activities this week.