Kuomintang candidate Lee Chao-ching was elected Nantou magistrate yesterday, defeating Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) and incumbent magistrate Lin Tzung-nan who quit the DPP to seek re-election.
Political analysts said the union of the KMT-led \"pan-blue alliance\" and the split of the DPP-led \"pan-green\" camp were the main reasons why the \"pan-blues\" were able to regain control in Nantou County after a hiatus of eight years. There are approximately 400,000 voters in Nantou County, with the support ratio between the \"pan-blue alliance\" and the \"pan-green\" camp registering six to four traditionally.
However, the ratio seems to have drawn closer in several recent elections. During the 2004 presidential election, the \"pan-blue\" ticket of Lien Chan (連戰) and James Soong (宋楚瑜) only won 8,000 votes more than the DPP ticket of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮). In the legislative elections held the same year, the \"pan-blues\" and \"pan-greens\" garnered two seats each out of the four legislative seats available in the county.
This situation indicates that neither the \"pan-blues\" nor the \"pan-greens\" can withstand a split without risking a defeat in an election, and the competition between Tsai and Lin for the limited \"pan-green\" support base foretold a hard battle in the county, analysts said.
By contrast, Lee managed to obtain the full support of the \"pan-blue alliance,\" with Chen Chih-pin from the People First Party deciding not to run after losing to Lee in opinion polls. Lin Ming-chin, who quit the KMT to run for, also withdrew from the race.
Lending to the \"pan-blue\" momentum was the wide-spread wish among Nantou residents for a new magistrate, as the unemployment rate in the county remains high six years after the 921 earthquake, analysts said.