DPP nominates outgoing vice premier for Kaohsiung mayoral by-election

Outgoing Vice Premier Chen Chi-mai. / CNA photo June 17, 2020

TAIPEI (CNA) — The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on Wednesday nominated outgoing Vice Premier Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) as the party’s candidate for the Aug. 15 Kaohsiung mayoral by-election to replace recalled mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜).

The nomination was announced by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), who doubles as DPP chairperson, following a DPP Central Standing Committee meeting.

At a post-meeting press event, Tsai said the party picked Chen because he is a Kaohsiung-native who has decades-long experience in serving in both local and central governments.

“He is our best candidate and the person most suitable for the job.”

The president also said it was a pity that Chen lost to Han in the November 2018 Kaohsiung mayoral election. The result had been a shock for Chen and herself but also taught the party to listen to the people and conduct reform.

“Now the Kaohsiung people have given us a chance for a make-up test,” she noted.

In his nomination address, Chen said he had disappointed his supporters during the November 2018 mayoral race. With the upcoming by-election, he pledged to fight for another chance to serve the people in his hometown.

Earlier in the day, Chen’s resignation as vice premier was approved by Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌). The resignation takes effect Friday.

Chen, 55, was a four-term DPP lawmaker, and served as acting Kaohsiung mayor from February to September 2005 after then mayor Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) of the DPP left the post to serve as premier.

Chen represented the party in the November 2018 Kaohsiung mayoral election but lost the city the DPP had run for 20 years to Han of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) by a 9 percent margin.

However, Han entered the presidential race less than a year after being elected mayor, prompting local civic groups to initiate a recall campaign arguing that Han’s presidential bid was a betrayal of his promises in the mayoral campaign.

The Central Election Commission (CEC) certified the results of the June 6 recall vote that saw a majority of voters in favor of removing Han from office and scheduled an Aug. 15 by-election for a new mayor to serve out the remainder of his term, which ends in December 2022.

Meanwhile, the main opposition KMT has yet to announce its candidate for the by-election despite media reports the party is looking to nominate a relatively younger local politician as its candidate.

KMT Secretary-General Lee Chien-lung (李乾龍) told reporters the party is currently in talks with seven potential candidates for the by-election, and is scheduled to officially announce its candidate on June 24 when the party holds a Central Standing Committee meeting in Kaohsiung.