Sun, Oct 22, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Local Elections: Local elections to be DPP’s first test since last year’s presidential election

By William Hetherington  /  Staff writer, with CNA

Next year’s local elections are to be the first test for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) since last year’s presidential elections, the party’s director of organization Lee Cheng-yi (李政毅) said yesterday.

The DPP is optimistic that it will pass the public’s scrutiny, Lee said, citing strong public support during the 2014 mayoral and commissioner elections.

Those elections directly influenced the presidential and legislative elections last year, he said.

Before 2014, the DPP only held six mayoral and commissioner seats, compared with the 16 seats held by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and independents, he said.

However, the situation has reversed, with the DPP and independents occupying 16 seats combined, he said, adding that this shows that Taiwanese are willing to give the DPP a chance at the local level.

“The public is practically giving the DPP a blank check in terms of authority, handing it power from the central to the local level,” he said.

In next year’s elections, the DPP is to attempt to retain power in cities and counties it has already won, while trying to gain a foothold in the offshore counties, which have traditionally been a KMT stronghold, Lee said.

The first-term DPP mayors and commissioners of nine cities and counties will be allowed to run for re-election, he said, adding that this will allow the party to evaluate their leadership.

In localities where DPP mayors and commissioners are on their second consecutive terms — Tainan and Kaohsiung, as well as Chiayi and Yilan counties — the party is to select new candidates through a primary election in the hope of retaining its control in those areas, he said.

As for non-DPP-governed administrative areas, DPP Legislator Liu Chao-hao (劉櫂豪) will run for Taitung County commissioner, while Hung Kuo-hao (洪國浩), mayor of Nantou County’s Caotun Township (草屯), will run for Nantou County commissioner, Lee said, adding that the party would enlist candidates for Miaoli, Hsinchu and Hualien counties.

The party is communicating with possible candidates in Miaoli County, but it needs to gather more feedback from locals, he said.

In Hsinchu County, the party has a shortlist of candidates — including Executive Yuan spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) — but has not made a final decision, he said.

As for the nation’s capital, the DPP plans to decide on a candidate after evaluating its relationship with incumbent Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), he said, adding that choosing a candidate for New Taipei City would be more of a challenge, given that it has the nation’s largest constituency.

Regarding the offshore counties, Lee said: “If we cannot find someone, then we will need to cooperate with someone [outside the party].”

Confidence in the party has increased since Premier William Lai (賴清德) took office, he added.

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