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Taiwan's political parties accused of 'backsliding,' bypassing primaries for local elections

Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation Chairman Ying-lung You warns democracy under threat as due process flouted

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Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation (TPOF) Chairman Ying-lung You. 

Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation (TPOF) Chairman Ying-lung You.  (Taiwan News photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The trend of bypassing party primaries for local elections is undermining democracy in Taiwan, a political commentator said Monday (June 27).

Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation (TPOF) Chairman Ying-lung You (游盈隆) said the recent selection of mayoral candidates by both the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) were held contrary to their own democratic procedures to serve those in power — namely the DPP's Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and the KMT's Eric Chu (朱立倫).

You said: "Taiwan is best known for its 'electoral democracy' but today its two largest political parties disregarded internal voting procedures to elect candidates, leaving nominations open to doubt and discontent among their supporters."

The political science expert was referring to the selection of the mayoral candidates for Taoyuan by the two parties. In May, KMT Chairman Eric Chu announced, in a surprise move, ex-Premier Simon Chang (張善政) would run for the top position in the city, with no due voting procedure, causing an intense backlash inside the party.

You also expressed his disappointment in the DPP after the party's selection committee in mid-June proposed Lin Chih-chien (林智堅), Hsinchu City mayor, to move to Taoyuan City to compete with Chang instead of running for reelection.

Another odd situation here is that Miaoli County Council Speaker Chung Tung-chin (鍾東錦), who has been vying for the KMT nomination to run for mayor, and Changhua Mayor Chiu Chien-fu (邱建富), who is seeking reelection, are reportedly not going to be nominated by their own parties, according to You.

"It is bizarre that those wanting to run for a seat have been ignored but those showing no interest are encouraged to run, and this could be the first situation of its kind in Taiwan's politics," You commented.

"These are clear examples of a trend that should be corrected and be put back on the right track from this year."

The former DPP member is calling for the participation of more independent, passionate and capable candidates to run for a seat in local elections as a "meaningful option" and as a reminder to those in power not to let democracy backslide, his post read.