12/11/2006, 00.00
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Contested victory for Democrats in Kaohsiung

The Democrats lost the capital but surprisingly won 40% of votes cast despite the scandals that have overwhelmed the family of President Chen. The ballot revealed a clear divide in the island’s political scenario.

Taipei (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Kuomintang (KMT) nationalists were defeated by a handful of votes by the democrats in municipal elections in Kaohsiung. But hopes for eventual victory have not died. A district court has accepted the appeal by the defeated nationalist candidate, and ordered a recount of all ballot papers. Kaohsiung is a traditional stronghold of the Democratic Progressive Party, led by President Chen Shui-bian.

The democrat candidate, Chen Chu, won by a narrow margin of 1,114 votes, that is, 0.14% of votes cast. Chen said that “Kuomintang’s desire to recount the votes should be respected” although “accusations of fraud” made by the nationalists to justify a recount were “unacceptable”.

Voting preferences, which practically ignored minor parties, officially heralded the dawn of a bipartisan political system in Taiwan too.

The island’s other big city, the capital Taipei, went to the KMT. But the democrat candidate for the capital, the ex-premier and mayor of Kaoshiung, Frank Hsieh Chang-ting, commented positively about the voting results.

Although he was defeated, in fact, he managed to get 40.9% of votes, an unexpected result especially in the light of recent scandals that shook the presidential family and the Democratic Party.

Many analysts believe the ballot results have definitively launched Hsieh as a presidential candidate in polls slated for 2008.

"The votes won by Hsieh prove he is the right man to counter the nationalist candidate in the 2008 race, and not the current premier Su Tseng-chang," political commentator Hu Chung-hsin said.

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