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May 26, 2017

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Independent candidate quits Chiayi mayoral election

TAIPEI--A former member of the Kuomintang (KMT) announced Tuesday that she will drop out of the mayoral race in Chiayi (嘉義) City this November, increasing the chances for the ruling party to keep its only foothold in southern Taiwan.

Independent Hsiao Shu-li (蕭淑麗), head of the Chiayi City Farmers' Association, denied speculation she had been pressured by KMT officials and she decided to quit the race simply because she was not ready for it.

Her withdrawal means the mayoral race in the city of 271,000 people will be a contest between former National Youth Commissioner Chen Yi-chen (陳以真) of the KMT and former Health Minister Twu Shiing-jer (涂醒哲) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Cities and counties south of the Zhuoshui River (濁水溪), Taiwan's longest river, are the traditional support base for the DPP, but Chiayi City has had a KMT mayor since 2005.

While Hsiao's exit increases the KMT fortunes in the city, she has said she will not campaign for either candidate.

The KMT's Chen said she was surprised by Hsiao's decision.

She said that because she and Hsiao shared many ideas and visions for urban development, she would solicit Hsiao's advice.

Twu, on the other hand, was not surprised by Hsiao's move, though he said it came earlier than he expected.

The KMT headquarters said it respects Hsiao's decision.

When reached for comment, the chairman of the party's Chiayi City branch, Tsai Ming-hsien, said that Hsiao's withdrawal would help the KMT bring together "pan-blue" supporters and would have a positive effect on Chen's chances of winning.

Chiayi is one of three provincial-level cities set to elect new leaders on Nov. 29, along with Taiwan's various counties and special municipalities.

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