KMT legislators mixed about merged ’16 elections

The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Kuomintang legislators hold mixed opinions about holding the next legislative and presidential elections simultaneously in 2016, a ruling party leader said yesterday.

KMT legislative caucus leader Fei Hung-tai said a survey recently conducted by the party showed that the number of its legislators supporting a proposal to merge the elections was similar to that of the opposing side. Fei, who heads the KMT’s Central Policy Committee, which oversees the party’s lawmakers, did not go into details about the reasons given by both sides. But he said the survey was meant to be a reference and it does not represent the KMT’s final stance on the issue. The Central Election Commission (CEC) is mulling merging the two elections, which will otherwise be separated by two months. The legislative election is supposed to be held in January 2016 and the presidential poll two months later. Holding the elections at the same time would save a lot of resources, but many legislators are assessing political gains and risks. Some KMT legislators are worried that a weak presidential candidate from the ruling party could undermine their chances of being re-elected to the Legislature, particularly at a time when support for the party is dwindling. The United Evening News cited some unnamed KMT legislators as threatening to topple the Cabinet to advance the legislative election if the CEC decides to merge the two races. KMT Legislator Liao Cheng-chin said a party’s overall campaign could benefit from merged elections if its presidential candidate is a strong one, such as Tsai Ing-wen, chairwoman of the Democratic Progressive Party. But for the KMT, it is still uncertain who will represent it in the presidential election, making it difficult to decide whether it will be better off in merged elections, said Liao. He added that re-election-seeking KMT legislators had better rely on themselves rather than rely on the party’s presidential hopeful. KMT Legislator Lin Kuo-cheng agreed that it would be more efficient running both elections at the same time, but consideration must be given to a scenario where the incumbent president would become a ��caretaker�� earlier than he should. Taiwan is set to see a new president in 2016, as President Ma Ying-jeou will step down after completing two terms of four years each. If the presidential poll takes place in January 2016, there will be a four-month ��vacuum�� until the new president is sworn in in May, Lin said. But KMT Legislator Lin Teh-fu said discussions of merging the elections should ignore the worries about the strengths of the presidential candidate.