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Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou re-elected KMT chairman
Ma was only candidate on ballot
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-07-20 04:03 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Members of the ruling Kuomintang re-elected President Ma Ying-jeou as their chairman Saturday since he was the only candidate on the ballot.

Ma received more than 90 percent of the vote or about 202,750 votes from 370,000 eligible voters, but only 57.86 percent of those actually showed up to cast a ballot, reports said. In addition, up to 18,000 KMT members cast invalid ballots in what cable station TVBS interpreted as a sign of protest against the president.

At the previous election in 2009, Ma received 93.8 percent or 285,000 votes. Approval ratings among the general public have hovered between 13 percent and 20 percent for most of the past year.

Party officials earlier said they were hoping for a turnout of at least 70 percent despite the absence of an alternative candidate on the ballot. Little-known Central Standing Committee member Hsieh Kun-hung also registered to run, but the number of valid endorsements he presented failed to reach the necessary threshold of 12,000, a party committee said earlier this month.

The ruling party set up 521 election offices across the country. In addition to a new chairman, members were also asked to cast a ballot to pick 1,156 congress delegates.

At the Taipei school where he voted Saturday morning, Ma had to come out and ask party workers how many delegates he could vote for. Each voter could chose only one delegate, the party workers said.

Outside, a number of students came to protest against the Miaoli County Government’s razing of four homes in Dapu last Thursday to make way for a science park. “Today you raze Dapu, tomorrow we raze the government,” they shouted before being removed by the police. Taipei city councilors criticized the handcuffing of the protesters as excessive force. Incidents of protesters attacking KMT offices were reported from several locations in the hours leading up to the poll.

Vice President Wu Den-yih and Premier Jiang Yi-huah cast ballots at the same voting office, but reports said there was little interaction. The two men have been reported as potential presidential contenders for 2016, when Ma ends his second and final term as head of state.

For Jiang, it was his first party election since rejoining the KMT after becoming Interior Minister last year.

Wu told reporters Ma’s re-election bid symbolized the support of the party for government policies.

KMT Honorary Chairman Lien Chan and his son Sean Lien, who are often pictured as Ma critics by the media, went to vote together at a school in central Taipei. The younger Lien described a suggestion to have every president from the KMT automatically serve concurrently as party chairman as logical.

A group of young members demanded Ma’s resignation if the KMT ended up with fewer seats than it had now after the December 2014 local and regional elections. The party chairman should take responsibility for the election result, they said.

Ma’s decision to run for another term as party chairman came under fire because of the poor performance of his government. Critics said he should focus on government affairs and leave party matters to a full-time chairman, but supporters responded that a combination of the two would lead to more effective government.

The Chinese-language United Evening News described Saturday’s election as a watershed between Ma running the country and him managing his succession. He would need to win back the trust of the public while avoiding turning into a lame-duck president, the paper wrote.

In addition to Wu and Jiang, Taipei City Mayor Hau Lung-bin and New Taipei City Mayor Eric Liluan Chu have also been mentioned as presidential hopefuls on the KMT side.

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