After a landslide victory in the local elections on Saturday, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is planning to nominate a candidate for the 2024 president election by the first half of next year, a source said yesterday.
New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) — who convincingly won re-election, receiving more than 450,000 votes more than the runner-up, former Taichung mayor Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) — is seen by many in the party as “the most legitimate” contender among KMT officials, the source said.
However, whether KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) would be willing to yield the opportunity to Hou remains to be seen, they added.
Ahead of Saturday, Chu set an ambitious goal of winning mayoral elections in more than three of the nation’s six special municipalities, among at least 16 races for top positions in cities and counties.
Although the KMT’s candidates came in third in Hsinchu City and Miaoli County, and the party lost in Penghu County and Kinmen County, winning four special municipalities and 13 cities or counties in total is an overall victory for the party, which came back from a crushing defeat in the four referendums on Dec. 18 last year.
Chu can take credit for the election wins, as well as putting the KMT back in charge of Taoyuan, which has been governed by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) since it was upgraded to a special municipality in 2014, political observers said.
Even if he did not run for president himself, Chu would certainly have a say in the party’s nomination, they said, adding that the focus of attention would be whether Chu would “maneuver the political machine … to block Hou.”
Although many KMT members regard Hou as having the best chance of winning the presidential election, running for the post only one year after winning re-election as mayor might be risky, some political watchers said.
Hou won re-election with about 62.42 percent of the vote, far exceeding the 57.2 percent of votes he received in 2018.
However, Hou should take into consideration whether the voters in New Taipei City would also support his presidential bid, they said.
Broadcasting Corp of China chairman Jaw Shaw-kong (趙少康) yesterday said that Hou would have to convince those who voted for him and, if he decides to run for president, consider who could win in a byelection to replace him as mayor.
Another potential contender comes from central Taiwan.
Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) won re-election by defeating DPP candidate Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) by more than 270,000 votes, which makes her another possible presidential candidate for the KMT, political observers said.
Lu yesterday said she “never thought about” running for president, adding that her focus is on working hard for Taichung.
Additional reporting by Chen Chien-chih
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