‘Pan-blue’ may be stricken with more election desertions

TAIPEI, Taiwan, The China Post Staff

The opposition camp appears to be facing an uphill battle in the year-end legislative election race as more aspirants have expressed their determination to run the race without the support of their party. Kuomintang (KMT) stalwart Chen Chien-chih, who formally headed the KMT’s organizational and development committee, is reportedly vying for a seat in Taipei’s northern constituency. His campaign is expected to post a serious challenge to KMT spokesman Tsai Cheng-yuan, who is one of the three candidates nominated by the party. Besides Tsai, the KMT nominates John Chang, son of the late president Chiang Ching-kuo and former lawmaker Ting Shou-chung. Unlike Tsai, both Chang and Ting are “mainlanders” and are not expected to be affected by Chen’s campaign. The KMT has said any more nominations in the hotly-contested district would result in narrow defeats just like in the 2000 legislative elections. Chen, a non-constituency lawmaker who had planned to retire this year, said he had a change of heart because “many supporters” were encouraging him to fight for the election. He warned that some of the supporters of the “local faction” who are disappointed at the KMT may shift their stance to support the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU), which hails former KMT Chairman Lee Teng-hui its “spiritual leader.” At least three incumbent KMT lawmakers who failed to secure nominations have launched their independent re-election bids at the expense of being expelled by the party.

The lawmakers have blamed their failed nominations on “unfair” primaries and vowed to run the election “to the very end” on their own. The KMT’s ally People First Party (PFP) is facing similar problems.

A PFP official who failed to secure nominations has tendered his resignation while another is considering a similar move. PFP spokesman Hsieh Kung-bing said he is still contemplating whether to leave the party to kick off his independent campaign. The PFP has decided to nominate incumbent lawmakers Sun Ta-chien and Cheng Chin-ling in Taoyuan County, where Hsieh is hoping to vie for a seat.

“I can’t see why I have an overlapping support base with Ms. Cheng. She is older and richer while I am younger and from a poor family,” Hsieh said.

“I also can’t see why I share an overlapping voter base with Mr. Sun since he is handsome and wears designer clothes while I am a peasant and wear plain clothes.”

Chen Cheng-shen, director of the PFP caucus office, has already tendered his resignation and said he does not rule out any possibility to join the election.