Referendums on food imports from Japanese prefectures that were banned following the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster and those aimed at curbing air pollution are at the forefront of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) strategy for the Nov. 24 elections, sources said.
By holding the referendums concurrently with local elections, the KMT hopes to buoy voter enthusiasm with signature drives for the petitions, which it would lead throughout the election campaig, sources told the Chinese-language Liberty Times (sister newspaper of the Taipei Times).
The referendum initiated last year by KMT Vice Chairman Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) aims to keep the ban on imports of food produced in Japan’s Gunma, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi and Chiba prefectures.
The government imposed the ban in 2011 after the disaster raised fears over the safety of foods produced in the prefectures, but it is now seeking to partially lift the ban.
After garnering more than 100,000 signatures, the petition against lifting the ban was this month filed with the Central Election Commission, which qualified it for a second round of signature-gathering.
Meanwhile, the KMT is organizing a separate signature drive for another referendum, which would call on the government to take a more active stance against sources of air pollution.
The KMT believes that the Japanese food imports issue resonates the most with voters in northern Taiwan, while air quality is the foremost issue for voters in the nation’s central and southern regions, sources said.
As a result, the air pollution petition has prominently featured KMT candidates who are running for mayor or commissioner seats in Taiwan’s hinterland, they said.
The KMT has issued a call for mobilization to its politicians and took the unusual step of ordering each lawmaker to collect 1,500 signatures for the air pollution petition, while lawmakers in Tainan were instructed to double that quota, sources said.
KMT lawmakers are to hand in the signatures by the end of this month and the party expects to present 40,000 to 50,000 signatures to the Central Election Committee, KMT Culture and Communications Committee director-general Lee Ming-hsien (李明賢) said yesterday.
In May, the KMT would carry the air pollution petition to its second-round and aims to garner 600,000 signatures before formalizing it as a ballot measure, he said.
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