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Taichung Mayor Jason Hu announces re-election bid
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-02-05 04:25 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Taichung Mayor Jason Hu announced his re-election bid for a fourth term Wednesday despite poor opinion polls after 13 years in power.

Last December 31, the opposition Democratic Progressive Party announced that its lawmaker Lin Chia-lung had won an opinion poll to become its candidate for mayor in the central Taiwanese city. Lin immediately led Kuomintang contenders by margins of more than 10 percent.

November 29 is the date set for the seven-in-one elections, which included votes for city mayors, county magistrates and councilors nationwide.

Hu, a former government spokesman and foreign minister, has headed Taichung since 2001. Even though mayors are limited to two consecutive terms, the merger of the city area with Taichung County into a new Taichung City in 2010 allows him to seek re-election for a second term of the new entity.

Weak popularity figures led to other KMT members to challenge his position. Lawmakers Tsai Chin-lung and Chi Kuo-tung wanted to compete in primaries against Hu, reports said. Deputy Interior Minister Hsiao Chia-chi and Deputy Mayor Hsu Chung-hsiung, both mentioned as possible contenders, said they would support Hu’s bid. Ruling party spokesman Yang Wei-chung said the party would respect all decisions and conduct discussions and eventual primaries according to its regulations.

The mayor has come under fire for allowing the law-and-order situation in his city to slip, even though at his news conference Wednesday, he warned that Taichung’s economic development might weaken if he lost the election. He also claimed that contrasts between the original Taichung City and Taichung County had diminished over the past four years. Hu said that previous fears that the county area would be marginalized had been proved untrue.

Earlier Wednesday, Hu and Lin still appeared at the same event to mark the resumption of work after the end of the Lunar New Year holiday. The DPP candidate said the city needed change after being led by the same man for more than a decade.

As Taoyuan County will be elevated to the status of special municipality at the end of the year, Taiwan will count six such areas directly under the Cabinet. The DPP, which is considered highly likely to hold on to its strongholds of Kaohsiung and Tainan in the South, wants to win at least three mayoral posts. With its location right in the center of Taiwan, Taichung could prove a key battleground to see whether KMT or DPP can gain the upper hand in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

New Taipei City Mayor Eric Liluan Chu commented on Hu’s announcement that it was normal for an incumbent mayor to seek re-election. Chu himself has not announced yet whether he wants to seek voters’ support for a second term or whether he will move on to another position. Commentators have suggested he might want to concentrate on a bid to become the KMT’s presidential candidate. Other possibilities could be a nomination as candidate for Taipei City mayor or an appointment as premier, reports said. Chu told reporters he would try to reduce the impact of the elections on governing the city to a level as small as possible.

Now that Hu has come out and announced he is in the running, pressure is likely to increase on both Chu and on KMT Central Committee member Sean Lien to provide more details about their plans.

After months of being labeled as the frontrunner to succeed Hau Lung-bin as the capital’s mayor, Lien said he would announce his decision whether or not to run after the Lunar New Year holiday. Now that the holiday was over, his ideas would come under even more intense scrutiny, reports said.

Lien failed to reveal any details as he left Taiwan for the United States Wednesday morning to attend the National Prayer Breakfast.

In Chiayi City, former National Youth Commission Chen Yi-chen said she would run for the KMT nomination for mayor. Incumbent Huang Min-huei denied media reports that she might join the Cabinet as interior minister after she leaves the government of the southern city. Chen hails from a prominent family of industrialists.

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