DPP unveils list of nominees for at-large officials

Meng confident ruling party will bag 12 seats; legislative poll will be first to use dual system

Democratic Progressive Party Deputy Secretary-General and former Legislator Tsai Huang-liang topped the "safe" list of probable at-large legislative nominees released by the DPP headquarters yesterday while several senior DPP politicians suffered setbacks in the polls. DPP Culture and Information Department Director Meng Yi-chao announced the final results of the governing party's at-large legislative nomination primary, which combines party membership votes from May 6 and opinion polls conducted May 14 to May 16. The upcoming legislative election will be the first to use a dual vote system for 73 single-seat constituencies, with the winners to be decided on a "first past the post" basis and 34 at-large seats to be decided based on the results of the second vote for political parties. Meng said that the DPP's conservative estimate is that it will "safely" win 12 of the 34 seats, a figure that would presume snaring 35 percent of the second ballots, but added that the number of DPP at-large seats could rise with a stronger performance in the party identification vote. The party membership vote is weighted 40 percent and the opinion polls, which were subject to a "filtering" to limit the survey sample to "pan-green" supporters of the DPP, account for 60 percent of the aspirants' scores. The list is also subject to the DPP's rule of ensuring that at least half of at-large nominees be women. Topping the opinion polls were Luo Wen-jia (羅文嘉), Tsai Huang-liang, Chiu Yi-ying (邱議瑩), Twu Shiing-jer (涂醒哲), former DPP legislator Shen Fu-hsiung (沈富雄), Wang Sing-nan and Kao Jyn-peng. However, based on the combined score and the gender adjustment, Meng said the top five male candidates were Tsai Huang-liang, former health minister Twu Shiing-jer, incumbent Lawmaker Wang Sing-nan, incumbent Lawmaker Kao Jyn-peng and former Hakka affairs commissioner Luo Wen-chia (羅文嘉). The five leading women candidates were Commission for Hakka Affairs Vice Chairwoman Chiu Yi-ying, incumbent legislator Hsueh Ling, former Changhua County Commissioner Weng Chin-chu (翁金珠), incumbent legislator Tien Chiu-chin and Overseas Compatriots Commission Chairwoman Chang Fu-mei (張富美). Meng pointed out that the list of nominees will not be finalized until a special party congress slated for June 30 and will be affected by the decision of DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun (游錫<方方土>) on how to allocate his discretionary power to nominate four at-large candidates. With Luo and Chang Fu-mei ranked fifth in the male and female lists respectively, Meng told the Taiwan News that if Yu puts all four of his nominees onto the top 12 "safe" list, the pair will become "marginal." After the results were released, Tsai told the Taiwan News that "after receiving such strong support, my responsibility is very heavy and I will have to work extremely hard in the campaign so that we can get a majority." Besides telling reporters the result showed that he had "not worked hard enough" even though he scored first in the opinion polls, Luo said the poll had been distorted by the strong filter to exclude supporters from the opposition "pan-blue" parties and called on the DPP not to "abandon" the "80 percent" of voters excluded from the DPP at-large primary by the filter. While Luo is on the margins, some senior DPP politicians were clearly excluded by the primary results, including DPP Legislator Hsu Jung-shu (許榮淑), DPP Legislator Hung Chi-chang (洪奇昌), former DPP Legislator Shen Fu-hsiung and former deputy education minister Fan Hsuan-lu. Hung told reporters that he "accepted the defeat," but added that "one setback" did not mark a "permanent defeat" and affirmed that his "former" New Tide faction would not alter its positions. Sheng emphasized that what he can do now is accept the result, noting that nearly all outspoken people lost out in the competition and saying that he wants to pave the way for reforms and middle-of-the-roaders but has no chance to run in election. DPP headquarters also released the result of the primary in the Taipei City Second District, which was won by DPP incumbent lawmaker Wang Shih-chien. Wang, a prominent supporter of DPP presidential nominee Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), defeated incumbent DPP Legislator Haiso Bi-khim and DPP Legislator Lan Mei-chin. Hsiao was the object of a smear campaign that painted the DPP foreign affairs specialist as "China Chin" (or Chinese zither) despite years of service as a cadre as well as director of the DPP International Affairs Department, an aide and interpreter for President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and an articulate DPP legislator, especially on foreign affairs and immigration issues. Speaking to reporters yesterday at her legislative office, Hsiao added that supporters had received telephone calls claiming that she would be appointed to a diplomatic post and that they should "give the opportunity" to serve as a legislator to "local people." Hsiao acknowledged that the course of the primary "was really an eye-opener about politics" and vowed "never to run for election again," but added that "there are many ways to work for Taiwan." Wang told reporters later that Hsiao was the strongest rival he had ever faced and said that the DPP headquarters "should make good use of her talent."