Taiwan's main opposition party yesterday contested its candidate's razor-thin defeat in the weekend mayoral election in Kaohsiung, the island's second largest city.
Huang Jun-yin of the Kuomintang said he had requested a re-count of the nearly 800,000 ballots cast in the southern industrial city. Huang lost by only 1,114 votes to the ruling Democratic Progressive Party's Chen Chu.
The Kaohsiung District Court has sealed off ballot boxes from all of the city's 839 polling stations to prepare for a re-count, judge Chen Chia-hui said.
He did not say when the re-count would start.
Huang also accused the ruling DPP of violating election law by making a false accusation against him on the eve of the election. He may file another suit to nullify the election results, Huang said.
The DPP accused Huang's campaign workers of handing envelopes containing NT$1,000 (US$31) to people on a bus returning from his final election rally, an accusation repeatedly aired by several pro-DPP cable news stations on Saturday.
"This was a vote short of justice or fairness," Huang said.
In Taipei, the KMT's Hau Lung-bin beat the DPP's Frank Hsieh. But Hsieh's showing he garnered almost 41 per cent of the vote was far better than the DPP's expectations.
The two mayoral elections had been seen by many as a referendum on "president" Chen Shui-bian's corruption tainted rule, but the relatively satisfactory election results could take pressure off the leader.
On November 3, prosecutors indicted Chen's wife and three former aides on charges of embezzling 14.8 million New Taiwan dollars (US$450,000) from a special fund under "presidential" control.
They said Chen could face the same charges when his "presidential" immunity from prosecution lapses after his term ends in May 2008.
Taiwan's opposition People First Party Chairman James Soong, who ran as an independent candidate in the Taipei polls, announced on Saturday he will retire from politics after receiving 53,281 votes, or 4.1 per cent of the total. Soong said he would accept the choice of Taipei's people and retire from politics. Although his votes ranked third, Soong fell far behind Hau and Hsieh. He conceded defeat before the last votes were counted.
(China Daily 12/11/2006 page2)