KMT candidate wins recount in Kaohsiung
Lawrence Chung in Taipei
Taiwan's opposition Kuomintang held hopes of winning a crucial mayoral post in Kaohsiung, the traditional stronghold of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, after the courts approved a recount.
A district court yesterday ordered all ballot boxes impounded after Huang Chun-ying appealed for a recount after his narrow defeat in the southern city.
Mr Huang lost to his DPP opponent, Chen Chu, by a thin margin of 1,114 votes, or 0.14 per cent of those cast, during the mayoral polls in Kaohsiung on Saturday. Ms Chen garnered 379,417 votes in the closely fought race, which Mr Huang claimed was won by unfair means, including smear tactics such as alleging he had bought votes on the last day of campaigning on Friday.
Accompanied by supporters and aides, Mr Huang on Saturday night sought court approval for a recount, and the court yesterday approved his request and sent a judge to seal all ballot boxes before setting a date for a recount.
'It is not that we can't afford the defeat, but that we don't think we should be treated unfairly,' he said. There was evidence, including a wrong count of the number of ballots, showing election faults and he would file a lawsuit today seeking to annul the election results.
His camp also claimed that about 6,600 ballots cast for Mr Huang were considered invalid during the count, which was 'highly suspicious'. If only 18 per cent of those votes were found to be valid, Mr Huang would win the election.
Ms Chen said she respected Mr Huang's decision to seek a recount. KMT chairman Ma Ying-jeou also went to Kaohsiung to support Mr Huang's bid for a recount.
Mr Ma considered the polls 'tied', with the party securing Taipei and making gains in Kaohsiung and with the number of votes between the KMT and DPP candidates being extremely close.
Others within the KMT were surprised by Mr Huang's defeat, especially as the DPP was dogged by a string of corruption scandals implicating President Chen Shui-bian and his family.
KMT honorary chairman Lien Chan was disappointed by the Kaohsiung result and found Ms Chen's win hard to believe, according to aides.
KMT legislators said there was a need to review the election strategy adopted in the Kaohsiung race.
The party's legislative whip, Tsai Chin-lung, said the gentlemanly strategy used by Mr Huang was not suited to Kaohsiung, where voters preferred tough and exaggerated campaigns.
Meanwhile, Vice-President Annette Lu Hsiu-lien described the DPP's narrow victory in Kaohsiung as expected and 'a decision from Heaven'.
She said the result would allow political parties to reflect on further improvements and development.
President Chen, the biggest beneficiary of the Kaohsiung victory, simply asked people to return to work after the polls.
The polls were seen as a referendum on whether Mr Chen should remain as president despite a string of corruption allegations against him.