Sun, Jul 08, 2018 - Page 3 News List

KMT plans to send Standing Committee on road show, hopes to flip five localities

By Shih Hsiao-Kuang  /  Staff reporter

With less than five months until November’s nine-in-one local elections, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is gearing up its campaigning efforts with the aim of flipping at least five of the nine cities and counties where the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is seeking re-election.

The DPP governs 13 of the 22 administrative regions, while the KMT controls six and independents govern the remaining three.

Of the 13 incumbent DPP mayors and commissioners, nine are seeking re-election, including in Keelung, Taoyuan, Hsinchu City, Taichung and Chiayi City, and in Changhua, Yunlin, Pingtung and Penghu counties.

So far, the KMT is relatively pessimistic about the Keelung, Taoyuan and Hsinchu mayoral elections, as the performances of the DPP’s Keelung Mayor Lin Yu-chang (林右昌) and Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) have been well-received among constituents.

As for Hsinchu, the main challenge lies in KMT Hsinchu mayoral candidate Hsu Ming-tsai’s (許明財) apparent difficulty cooperating and forming an alliance with the party’s Hsinchu city councilor candidates.

A strategic assessment by the party showed that the KMT stands a fair chance of flipping Chiayi City, as well as Changhua, Yunlin and Penghu counties, because the DPP’s candidates there are expected to suffer as a result of intraparty struggles or bear the brunt of criticism for the ruling party’s performance at the helm of the national government.

DPP Penghu County Commissioner Chen Kuang-fu’s (陳光復) popularity has taken a dive due to his perceived poor performance and the DPP administration’s pension reform for civil servants, public-school teachers and military officials — a group that is heavily represented on the outlying island.

As for Yunlin and Chiayi, although the KMT candidates there are expected to benefit from the DPP incumbents’ unsatisfying performance, there are some factors that could put the KMT at a disadvantage.

These include the recent conviction on corruption charges of former Yunlin County commissioner Chang Jung-wei (張榮味) — whose sister, Chang Li-shan (張麗善), is running for the commissioner post on the KMT ticket — and KMT Chiayi City Council Speaker Hsiao Shu-li’s (蕭淑麗) decision to run for Chiayi mayor as an independent.

Another city that the KMT is hoping to flip is Taichung, where opinion polls have showed that Taichung Mayor Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) of the DPP and KMT Taichung mayoral candidate Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) were closely tied, with the latter even outperforming the former by a small margin at times.

Despite Lin Chia-lung’s popularity among Taichung residents, traffic and air pollution problems in the city have weighed on his popularity. His electoral prospects could be further undermined by an anti-air pollution referendum proposal initiated by the KMT.

Starting later this month or early next month, the KMT plans to take meetings of the party’s Central Standing Committee to different regions as part of its campaigning efforts.

The first destination is expected to be Taichung, which was governed by the KMT for more than a decade before Lin Chia-lung defeated his KMT challenger in the 2014 local elections. Changhua and Yunlin counties are also listed among the first wave of destinations.

The KMT said it plans to take the weekly meetings to all the 19 cities and counties on Taiwan proper, skipping outlying islands that are not easily reached.

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