DPP picks up 2 seats, KMT 1 in legislative by-elections

Yu Tien (余天) beat two rivals with 56,888 votes in the third electoral district in Taiwan’s most populous city, New Taipei, is seen walking alongside President Tsai Ing-wen in this undated file photo. (NOWnews)

TAIPEI (CNA) — The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) made a slight comeback in legislative by-elections on March 16 after a landslide loss in local government elections late last year, picking up two seats, while the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) grabbed one.

In the four by-elections in New Taipei, Tainan, Changhua, and Kinmen, DPP candidates won the first two, with the KMT taking Changhua and an independent picking up Kinmen, according to the Central Election Commission (CEC).

The elections brought the total number of DPP lawmakers to 68 in the 113-seat Legislative Yuan, back to the same level as after the 2016 legislative elections.

Compared with 2016, the number of KMT seats dropped two to 33 due to the Kinmen loss and the suspension of lawmaker Chien Tung-ming (簡東明), who was found guilty of vote buying.

The DPP’s Yu Tien (余天) beat two rivals with 56,888 votes in the third electoral district in Taiwan’s most populous city, New Taipei, the commission said.

Another DPP candidate, Kuo Kuo-wen (郭國文), won the second electoral district in southern Taiwan’s Tainan with 62,858 votes, beating five other candidates.

In the first electoral district of central Taiwan’s Changhua County, Ko Cheng-fang (柯呈枋) of the KMT outweighed two other candidates with 47,835 votes.

Meanwhile, independent candidate Chen Yu-chen (陳玉珍) picked up the seat in outlying Kinmen County, beating her five rivals with 7,117 votes.

In response to the election results, KMT spokesman Ou-Yang Long (歐陽龍) said the party did not do well enough, but vowed to nominate the best candidates for next year’s presidential and legislative elections.

While KMT members said the popularity of Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) boosted the momentum of its candidates and bridged the gap with DPP candidates in New Taipei and Tainan, they also recognized that still more effort is needed, particularly in areas in which rivalries are intense.

The election results were also an alarm call for the KMT, they said, as it can no longer depend on voters’ disappointment with the DPP and its poor performance in the local elections last year.

The KMT must be capable of proposing concrete solutions to issues such as cross-Taiwan Strait affairs, the economy and energy, they said.

DPP Secretary-General Lo Wen-jia (羅文嘉), meanwhile, said his party gained some confidence after the by-elections, but he also stressed that the DPP did not see the result as a victory but rather as a small bit of progress after the party’s dismal showing in the local elections.

DPP members said their campaign strategies were successful in Tainan, where they stressed that Kuo’s election outcome will serve as a harbinger for the 2020 presidential election.

In New Taipei, the DPP also managed to mobilize voters to secure Yu, who also enjoys nationwide popularity, partly due to his former profession as a singer.

The CEC said it will make an official announcement of the election results March 19.

Voter turnouts were 42.1 percent in New Taipei, 44.53 percent in Tainan, 36.59 percent in Changhua and 21.21 percent in Kinmen, the commission added.

By Lee Hsin-Yin