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Kaohsiung mayoral race result invalidated

Kaohsiung mayoral race result invalidated

The Kaohsiung District Court yesterday ruled that the results of last year's Kaohsiung mayoral race, in which the ruling Democratic Progressive Party's nominee Chen Chu (陳菊) was elected mayor, should be invalidated.
Judges decided that accusations Chen's camp made regarding Huang Jun-ying (黃俊英), her main rival, on the eve of the election and on the polling day influenced election results.
The district court stressed in a news release that "Chen's polling-day action of making public a videotape showing a man giving money to passengers on a bus and urging them to vote for Huang could be regarded as a surprise attack against Huang and thus to have made the election unfair."
"We deem that Chen Chu's election as mayor should be invalidated because she, as well as her camp, held a press conference to make vote-buying accusations against her rival on polling day, when laws stipulate that no election-related campaigns can be held at that time in the race," the district court said in the statement.
Huang was not given enough time nor a fair opportunity to defend himself, judges insisted, further emphasizing that the evidence Chen's camp cited for its accusations against Huang was not strong enough.
However, the district court overruled a second lawsuit by Huang alleging irregularities caused by suspected vote-rigging.
The court decided that although the Central Election Commission, responsible for holding the vote, failed to stop Chen from making vote-buying allegations against Huang and did not fine Chen for making the allegations on polling day, this was not sufficient grounds for ruling that the entire election was held improperly.
Stressing that imperfections in the electoral process did not have substantial influence on the overall results of the race, the district court noted that Chen beat Huang by 1,171 ballots, or 0.14 percent, in the vote recount, while only 457 ballots were found to be questionable. The initial count yielded a 1,113-vote win in favor of Chen.
Huang insisted that he was never engaged in vote-buying and Chen's action of making the videotape public, which was aired repeatedly on pro-green news channels on the polling day, cost him the mayoral race.
Chen's camp charged that the bus passengers shown in the video were bribed into participating in Huang's election eve rally.
In reply, Huang's camp filed a slander suit against Chen on polling day, formally asking the court on December 28 of last year to invalidate the mayoral election and demanding a vote recount.
Vote boxes at a total of 839 polling stations and name lists of eligible voters were sealed off one day after polling day and a vote recount was conducted starting March 12.
After trying the case for about six months, the district court gave its verdict in favor of Huang yesterday, sending a shockwave through the political arena.
President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who once vowed to move to Kaohsiung if Chen was elected in last year's mayoral election, stressed, "I thought the verdict was a big insult to me and to justice."
Chen Chu's camp announced the incumbent mayor's decision to appeal against the ruling as soon as the verdict was announced.
Chen Chu insisted, "I thought that my camp's action to disclose a candidate's alleged involvement in vote-buying before the election was absolutely correct."
"Bringing vote-buying scandals to light is the duty of a person," she stressed. "How could one who was allegedly involved in vote-buying be allowed to win a lawsuit while an innocent person lost?"
Echoing Chen Chu's statement, the DPP legislative caucus stressed that it supported the mayor's decision to appeal the "ridiculous" ruling, stressing that the videotape was not a self-directed production and could prove Huang's vote-buying.
Chen Chu also promised to perform her duties as a good mayor and work as usual before a superior court announces its ruling on her case.
Under the election and recall law, Chen Chu has to appeal against the district court's verdict within 20 days after she receives her verdict. After her appeal, a superior court has to determine whether to uphold or reverse the district court's verdict within six months.
In other words, a superior court will announce its unappealable verdict in the high profile case at the beginning of next year at the latest.
The Central Election Commission stressed that if a superior court upholds the district court's verdict, it will relieve Chen Chu of her mayoral status and hold a Kaohsiung mayoral by-election in three months.


Updated : 2021-05-14 10:23 GMT+08:00