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May 27, 2017

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Lawmaker's wife to run in Miaoli by-election

MIAOLI, Taiwan -- The ruling Kuomintang will start picking a candidate this week to run for the legislative seat vacated by lawmaker Lee E-ting, with his wife Chen Luan-ying as a key contender.

Lee was stripped of his seat last week due to conviction of vote-buying in the form of making financial donations to local temples in the central western county of Miaoli.

The KMT will set the timetable for selecting a candidate on Wednesday with the formal announcement and acceptance of registrations beginning on Thursday.

If there is more than one interested candidate, the party will discuss the possibilities. Public opinion polls will be carried out during the holidays starting on Jan. 1 and a straw vote of KMT members will be held on Jan. 4 to produce one candidate.

The name of the winner of the primary will be forwarded to the headquarters for final approval.

There were reports that three KMT members of the county council and one former lawmaker, Ho Chih-hui, were interested in the seat albeit none has yet openly announced any firm decision.

Lee's wife is expected to get many sympathetic votes as many residents in Miaoli believe that Lee's seat should not be nullified just because he made contributions to temples.

Chen is seen to receive staunch backing from the supporters of her husband. Lee started his career as a public servant at the Holong Township Government, handling farming and economic affairs.

Supporters interpret that a victory for Chen will be vindication for her husband.

It is highly common for politicians' wives to run for public offices on behalf of their husbands when the men are unavailable due to legal troubles or other reasons.

The opposition Democratic Progressive Party plans to draft a candidate to give itself a shot at the seat in the by-election that will be held within three months.

But the party will not put forward the candidate before the KMT candidate is nailed down.

DPP leaders were most interested in drafting Yeh Chu-lan, who formerly served as vice premier and presidential secretary general. Miaoli is a farming county with a high percentage of residents of Hakka people. Yeh once served as the chairwoman of the Cabinet Council of Hakka Affairs.

However, she is unlikely to emerge as the DPP candidate because she has no household registration, making her ineligible to run for the seat.

DPP leaders said they will come up with the most qualified candidate, although the party will face an uphill battle considering the low support for the DPP in recent elections.

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