Former vice premier Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday won the Kaohsiung mayoral by-election to fill the vacancy left by the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), who was removed from office after a recall vote on June 6.
Chen received 671,804 votes, or 70.03 percent, against 248,478, or 25.90 percent, for KMT Kaohsiung City Councilor Jane Lee (李眉蓁) and 38,960, or 4.06 percent, for Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Kaohsiung City Councilor Wu Yi-jheng (吳益政), according to the final vote tallies from the Kaohsiung City Election Commission.
In his victory speech, Chen said that people’s support, regardless for whom, spelled the beginning of hope for Kaohsiung.
Photo: Lee Hui-chou, Taipei Times
“I would like for supporters of the other two candidates to hold me to the strictest of standards so that I may learn from my mistakes,” Chen said, adding that the top four priorities of his administration would be seeking industrial transition, reducing unemployment, building transportation infrastructure and tackling air pollution.
Lee said Kaohsiung residents stood to benefit the most from the by-election and that she has learned much from the vote.
She congratulated Chen on his victory and called on her supporters to remain open-minded and give Chen a chance to lead Kaohsiung toward a better future.
KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) said that the defeat would serve to strengthen the party’s comeback in 2022, adding that the DPP’s hold on Kaohsiung would not last for years as some have predicted.
The KMT would endeavor to provide oversight of city governance to the best of its abilities, he added.
Wu, accompanied by campaign manager Tsai Pi-ru (蔡璧如) and his daughter, Wu Lo-ying (吳洛瑩), called on supporters not to give up hope, while congratulating Chen on his win.
Photo: Hsu Li-chuan, Taipei Times
Speaking in Taichung, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), who is the TPP chairman, said that he hoped Chen could reference some of the policies the TPP candidate had submitted.
“To reflect and improve is the culture at the TPP, and we hope that Taiwan will become better by having the TPP,” Ko said.
Chen’s victory put Kaohsiung back in the hands of the DPP, which had governed the city for 20 years before Han beat Chen in the 2018 mayoral election by a nine-point margin.
However, Han launched a bid for president just months after taking office as mayor and his perceived missteps prompted civic groups and DPP city councilors to call for his removal from office, which culminated in the recall vote.
Lee’s loss yesterday marked the lowest number of votes the KMT has obtained in the city since 2014.
Then-KMT mayoral candidate Yang Chiu-hsing (楊秋興) won 450,647 votes, or 30.89 percent, while Han in 2018 obtained 892,545 votes, or 53.86 percent, Kaohsiung City Election Commission data showed.
However, when Han ran for president on the KMT ticket in the Jan. 11 election, he garnered only 610,896 votes, or 34.63 percent, from the Kaohsiung area, the data showed.
Turnout in yesterday’s vote was low at 41.83 percent, even lower than the 42.14 percent for the recall vote.
The election commission said that by-elections usually have a lower voter turnout rate than regular elections.
The turnout rate was 66 percent for the 2014 mayoral election, 73 percent for the 2018 mayoral election, and 74 percent for the Jan. 11 presidential and legislative elections, it added.
Some Kaohsiung residents have said that three elections within a year — the Jan. 11 elections, the recall vote and the by-election — was too much.
TPP Secretary-General Hsieh Li-kung (謝立功) sidestepped the question when asked whether the low support for Wu could harm Ko’s chances of being elected president in 2022, saying that the preparation time for the by-election was uncommonly short and it was more difficult for small parties.
The party would continue to foster support in cities and counties nationwide, he added.
Additional reporting by Shen Wen-yao and Hung Chen-hung
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