The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is hoping to use the momentum from its successful recall of a Taoyuan city councilor to drive its referendum on the importation of pork containing ractopamine, while eyeing its next recall target, a party official said on Sunday.
Taoyuan City Councilor Wang Hao-yu (王浩宇) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was recalled on Saturday in a vote with a turnout rate of 28 percent in Taoyuan’s Jhongli District (中壢).
Although the victory boosted morale among the pan-blue camp, it is likely not replicable elsewhere, the KMT official said.
Wang was extremely disliked in Taoyuan, but even after ardent mobilization by the local party chapter, he was only barely ousted, they said.
According to the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act (公職人員選舉罷免法), at least one-quarter of eligible voters are required for a recall motion to pass.
The motion needed 81,940 votes to pass, and 84,582 people voted to recall Wang, while 7,128 voted against the measure.
Jhongli traditionally leans blue, but is governed by the DPP under Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦), making it harder for the KMT to exert influence in the district, KMT Organizational Development Committee director Lee Che-hua (李哲華) said.
The party must rely on its allies to lead a recall campaign, Lee said, adding that if the Jhongli voters did not hold such strong feelings toward Wang, they would not have turned out to vote.
The party plans to equate Wang’s recall with the referendum on pork imports, to encourage voters to show up to the polls, Lee said.
As for recall efforts targeting Kaohsiung city councilors Kao Min-lin (高閔琳) of the DPP and Huang Jie (黃捷), who is independent after leaving the New Power Party, Lee said those were initiated by civil society groups and would not be led by the KMT, which prefers to play a supportive role.
The Central Election Commission on Dec. 18 last year announced that a petition led by Liu Chen-fang (劉辰芳), a resident of Kaohsiung’s Fongshan District (鳳山), to recall Huang had been approved and a recall vote was set for Feb. 6.
In Huang’s case, the party would follow the same model as Wang’s recall drive, Lee said, adding that the KMT has been quietly providing assistance since it was approached by a recall Huang group in November, only going public with its efforts last month.
For the eight meetings the party has held on the pork import referendum in Fongshan, it has also invited the group calling for Huang’s removal to state its case, he said.
However, each recall campaign is different, KMT Culture and Communications Committee deputy director Cheng Chao-hsin (鄭照新) said, adding that the party prefers to support rather than lead recall efforts.
The goal is not to recall Huang, but rather to prime voters with different political leanings to work together on the referendum, Cheng Chao-hsin said.
Aside from city counselors, the party has also been discussing who else to potentially target for recall, such as Taiwan Statebuilding Party Legislator Chen Po-wei (陳柏惟).
It has not ruled out the possibility of targeting lawmakers who support food imports containing ractopamine, but would first need wide public support, he added.
Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強), director of the KMT’s Institute of Revolutionary Practice, had previously proposed recalling DPP legislators Rosalia Wu (吳思瑤) and Tsai Shih-ying (蔡適應), but after intense internal discussion, the party has set its sights on Chen, Cheng Chao-hsin said.
Although it is not yet decided, many pan-blue voters have negative views of Chen, making him a suitable option, he added.
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