With the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) reeling amid a string of corruption scandals involving party members, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is speeding up the process of nominating candidates for the seven-in-one local elections next year to pave the way for a return to power.
DPP officials yesterday said that following the suspension of Nantou County commissioner Lee Chao-ching (李朝卿) of the KMT due to corruption charges and an ongoing graft probe into Cho Po-chung (卓伯仲), the younger brother of Changhua County Commissioner Cho Po-yuan (卓伯源) of the KMT, the DPP has a good chance of winning the mayoral seats in Nantou and Changhua in next year’s elections.
The DPP also stands a chance of taking control in Chiayi City and Greater Taichung, which have been listed among the party’s “first-grade combat zones,” DPP officials said, adding that the party hopes to complete its list of candidates by the end of this year.
Lee, who had been detained since Nov. 30 last year on suspicion of taking bribes on public projects, was released on NT$20 million (US$668,000) bail on Tuesday last week after prosecutors indicted him on corruption charges.
He applied for reinstatement the following day, but the request was rejected by the Ministry of the Interior on Monday.
Cho Po-chung has been detained since January on suspicion of manipulating several tenders and receiving kickbacks from a contractor and, according to reports in the Chinese-language Journalist magazine, might have also embezzled donations from businesses to President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) Changhua office during Ma’s presidential campaign last year.
However, although the recent spate of graft scandals has taken a toll on the KMT, competition among DPP members seeking candidacy for county commissioner posts — particularly in Changhua, Nantou and Taichung — has also intensified
According to sources, DPP Department of Organization director Lee Wen-chung (李文忠) and DPP Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) are expected to vie for the party’s nomination to run in Nantou.
Lee Wen-chung, who represented the party in 2009 to challenge then-Nantou County commissioner Lee Chao-ching, said he has reinforced his local support base following the loss and that he is “prudently optimistic” about next year’s mayoral election.
Despite saying that he has endeavored to appeal to voters at the grassroots level in the region and is inclined to run for the mayoral post, Tsai said no formal decisions have been made.
As for the county commissioner post in Changhua, three DPP members have expressed their intention to run for the post, including Legislator Wei Ming-ku (魏明谷) and former legislators Chiang Chao-i (江昭儀) and Chen Chin-ting (陳進丁), sources said, adding that Changhua Mayor Chiu Chien-fu (邱建富) and former Changhua County commissioner Wong Chin-chu (翁金珠) are also tipped as possible candidates.
For the Taichung mayoral post, DPP legislators Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) and Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌), and former DPP secretary-general Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) could be among a group of party members who seek the nomination for the mayorship, sources said.
With regard to the party’s “first-grade combat zones,” former DPP legislator Twu Shiing-jer (涂醒哲) is most likely to represent the party in the mayoral election in Chiayi, sources said.
The sources added that the party headquarters would conduct negotiations with candidate hopefuls for hotly contested elective positions to seek consensus on the names of candidates, before resorting to primary elections.