When former Kaohsiung mayor Han Guo-yu stepped down last month after losing a recall election on June 6th, many political parties in Taiwan, including the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the main opposition party Kuomintang (KMT) and the smaller Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) stepped up to compete in the upcoming mayoral by-election.
The by-election for Kaohsiung mayor will be held on August 15th.
Following Han’s unprecedented defeat, several mainstream Taiwanese political parties have nominated their candidates ahead of the by-election, and these include Chen Chi-mai (DPP), Li Mei-chen (KMT) and Wu Yi-cheng (TPP).
As recent polling indicates, Chen, 55, now leads in pre-by-election popularity, with more than 54% of Kaohsiung citizens supporting him, according to a TVBS poll.
Chen took to Facebook on June 23rd and 24th saying he will take care of Kaohsiung’s public transportation and traffic issues, including the extension of National Freeway 10, a freeway that connects Kaohsiung city with its more remote areas north east of the city center.
Railway construction and business attraction are also issues covered by Chen’s policies.
The Keelung native and former acting-mayor of the city has also assured residents of his ability to handle global investment based on his previous experiences as a vice premier in the nation’s Executive Yuan.
However, Chen’s policies have been criticized by Li’s political team as a “duplication” of her own political campaign in 2018’s nine-in-one election, when she lost the election to Han.
It is understood the now former mayor remains a close friend of the 41-year-old Li.
Li meanwhile has the backing of 22% of Kaohsiung residents in the upcoming election.
“Li is at a disadvantage (in that) she is not well-known to a sufficient degree” said professor Chou Wei-hang of Fu Jen Catholic University in an opinion shared on FACENEWS, implying that Li might lose the by-election simply because of the fact that she is not widely known by citizens of Kaohsiung – a city she has served as a local councilor for the past decade.
The daughter of a former councilor has also recently been slammed for her poor preparation in the run up to the election.
In one statement attributed to her, Li said that during her mayoral term, had she won, she would have brought the Asian Games, a multi-sport event with nations from across Asia participating, to Kaohsiung – an ambition seen by many as unrealistic at the time.
Because of this, her opponents now refer to Li as a 2.0 version of Han Guo-yu.
As for Wu, a Kaohsiung city councilor for the past 18 years, the 57-year-old joins the by-election with two parties backing him – the TPP and the People First Party (PFP).
A month ahead of the vote, the candidate’s approval rating stands at a mere 5%, and according to one poll, almost half of the citizens of Kaohsiung polled have never heard of him.
Wu therefore needs to make efforts just to “get his face known” in Kaohsiung at the cost of actually going out to try and win the by-election.
Professor Chou suggested, “Wu’s participation in the by-election can be deemed a political strategy by (current mayor of Taipei) Ko Wen-je, who is (also founder and) the current chairman of the Taiwan People’s Party.”
The professor argued that the real goal of the TPP at this point in time is to let the Taiwanese people know more about the party, and to help the wider public understand its political ideology.
And despite Wu’s relatively low approval rating at present, his participation in this upcoming election, as pointed out by critics, can really be seen as something of a threat to both the DPP and the KMT.