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Alex Tsai elated after recall vote falls short

Alex Tsai elated after recall vote falls short

KMT Legislator Alex Tsai, who headed Sean Lien’s unsuccessful campaign for Taipei Mayor last year, was ebullient after voters failed to show up in enough numbers to force him out of his legislative seat in the constituency covering the Neihu and Nangang districts of Taipei.

Although voters casting ballots were overwhelmingly supportive of recalling Tsai, the overall turnout fell far short of the threshold of 50% of residents called for by the ROC Constitution. The recall movement, which was pushed by a group calling themselves the Appendectomy Project, managed to get the petition against Tsai into the second stage of the recall process while similar actions against KMT legislators Lin Hong-chih and Wu Yu-sheng failed to make it past the first hurdle.

Speaking to the press after the final tally of 76 737 votes in the poll, Tsai noted that the turnout of 24.8% fell far short of the 50% threshold of 158,717. He neglected to comment on the fact that more than 97% of those casting votes in the election wanted to see him removed from office.

That did little to sway Tsai’s confidence. He went to Facebook Saturday evening to issue a statement declaring that "this is a great victory for democracy and the rule of law." He slammed political opponents and students for promoting the recall movement and said that the people have completely rejected their motives.

"The very low turnout among voters demonstrates the fraud being pushed by the Sunflowers Students and their leaders. Their political ignorance and unreasonable, illegal, and indecent behavior were the sole drivers behind this recall motion."

Tsai also called the referendum’s failure a rejection of Ko Wen-je, saying that it was the first day of Ko’s shift to the ‘high road’ of politics in Taipei.

Ko put in a brief appearance together with Deputy Mayor Deng Chia-chu during the morning, stopping near a polling station at Xihu Elementary School for about five minutes. Ko noted that a true democracy should contain the elements of election, recall, initiative and referendum. In Taiwan, however, the only power given to the people is in elections every four years. At all other times the people are completely left out of the political process. Ko said this shows that Taiwan still has a long way to go in its quest to achieve real democracy. He noted that referenda are quite common in a number of other countries, but in Taiwan they are still in the experimental stage and considered a novelty.

Taipei City Election Commission Deputy Director-General Huang Hsi-ming said that the commission had received 50 complaints regarding polling in the district, of which three were about postings on Ko’s Facebook page. Huang said the commission will begin studying evidence from polling stations and the entire district Monday to determine whether Ko attempted to influence the results. He said if the mayor is found in violation of regulations he could be fined between NT$100,000 and 1 million.

Ko tiptoed around questions from the media on the poll. He confined his comments to the fact that each polling station was run by nine staffers and more than 130 polling stations were set up for the referendum. That represents a total of well over a thousand people, he said as he sighed at what he called the high cost of democracy.

DPP spokesman Cheng Yun-peng said that Saturday’s results were predictable yet nonetheless regrettable. He said that although the results did not meet expectations, it was significant that the people were able to push the recall action to another stage, thereby writing a new page in the history of Taiwan. He added that current recall and referendum regulations have many outdated provisions and the DPP will do its best to see that the laws amended. He appealed to the KMT not to oppose such actions.

Updated : 2021-09-19 12:09 GMT+08:00