President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday called for unity in the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in the local elections next year as he joined party members at a Lunar New Year gathering.
“We continue to face tough challenges this year. On the one hand, we must revive the economy. There are also the seven-in-one elections at the end of this year, and everyone must spare no efforts [to obtain victory],” he said yesterday at the KMT headquarters.
Ma, who doubles as KMT chairman, reiterated his pledge to improve the nation’s economy, citing figures to defend the government’s efforts to revitalize economic development and to raise the employment rate.
“As the commodity price drops and the economy is in slow recovery, we are expecting a better economic situation than last year,” he said.
Top KMT officials, including Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) and former KMT chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) attended the gathering yesterday.
Amid the ongoing legal battle between Wang and the KMT over his party membership, Wang yesterday shook hands with Ma and party members, and joined Ma to pledge party unity ahead of local elections.
“For the KMT, it is our goal to keep the seats in northern cities and counties in this year’s elections, consolidate our base in central Taiwan and make breakthroughs in the south,” he said.
Wu said that apart from the central government’s performance, it was important for each of the local government heads to demonstrate their achievements in local developments so that the party will see better performance in the elections.
The seven-in-one elections slated for Nov. 29 are to be held for directly elected local government positions: mayors and councilors of the special municipalities, county commissioners and councilors, city mayors and city councilors, township administrators and councilors and borough wardens.
Recent polls have suggested that the KMT will suffer defeats in the elections amid the Ma administration’s poor performance. A survey released last month showed that the KMT would lose the reins in six of 14 municipalities and counties in the elections, including Taipei, Greater Taichung, Keelung, Chiayi and Changhua and Penghu counties.
KMT Vice Chairman Chan Chun-po (詹春柏) said the party will follow election campaign strategies and all the surveys and opinion polls would only serve as reference, as public opinion is constantly changing.