DPP to crack down on vote-buying

PROACTIVE STANCE: The party has set up a team to investigate any allegations of bribery or vote-buying as it prepares for its legislative and presidential primaries

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Tue, Apr 24, 2007 - Page 3

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) headquarters yesterday activated a mechanism to combat possible vote-buying ahead of the party's presidential and legislative primaries.

In a statement, DPP Secretary-General Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) urged members to report violations of the party's regulations to a special team set up to combat bribery during the primaries.

Lin said the party will make public any reports of vote-buying and that such reports would be thoroughly investigated.

Lin's statement came in response to a story on the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times' sister newspaper) yesterday, which quoted DPP Legislator Yu Jan-daw (余政道) as saying that some grassroots supporters who control vote banks in Tainan had told him they were charging candidates about NT$1,500 for one vote.

One of these "controllers" also said he had paid the party membership fee -- NT$300 per year -- for many people on behalf of certain legislative candidates, the story quoted Yu as saying.

DPP Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) confirmed Yu's comments, but said members would not necessarily vote for the candidate who paid for their membership.

With the number of legislative seats halved to 113, the competition for the DPP's legislators-at-large seats is particularly heated. Nineteen people have registered for the party primary and candidate coordination will be needed in nearly 30 legislative districts.

Pressed by reporters yesterday to expand on his allegations, Yu urged the party to establish an investigative team to look into vote-buying.

He said he would refer cases to the party headquarters if he had any evidence.

But Yu said that vote-buying is not common among DPP members.

DPP Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) said similar "rumors" have circulated every time the party has held a primary, but no one has ever been caught because the individuals involved only work with those they know.

"The Public Officials' Election and Recall Law (公務人員選舉罷免法) does not apply [to primaries]. Without a reward or interference by public authorities, it would be very difficult for the party headquarters to look into the situation," Gao said.

As of last year, the DPP had 544,515 members.

In a bid to stop DPP politicians from controlling vote banks, in January DPP headquarters began allowing members to pay membership fees at convenience stores.