KMT narrowly wins Taichung election
By Enru Lin ,The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- Kuomintang (KMT) candidate Yen Kuan-hen (顏寬恒) narrowly beat out his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) rival yesterday to hold on to a traditionally pan-blue legislative seat.
January 27, 2013, 12:04 am TWN
Taichung District Two voted yesterday to replace former lawmaker Yen Chin-piao (顏清標), who was stripped of his seat last November over corruption. Yen's son, Yen Kuan-hen, picked up the seat yesterday by a razor-thin margin of 0.86 percentage points — or 1,138 votes, according to the Taichung Election Commission.
The younger Yen earned 49.95 percent of ballots, while DPP nominee Chen Shih-kai (陳世凱) won 49.09 percent, results showed on Saturday. Meanwhile, independent candidate Yu Szu-chia (余思家) of the All People's Party received 0.96 percent of the vote.
Yen Kuan-hen's mandate appears lesser compared to his father's in the 2012 legislative election. In 2012, the senior Yen bested his rival 59.79 to 40.20 percent.
Even in Wujih (烏日), Wufeng (霧峰) and Dali (大里) — his weaker districts — the senior Yen pulled out 55 percent of the vote, over his opponent's 45 percent. The younger Yen lost Wurih and Dali on Saturday, managing just 44 percent.
Yen Kuan-hen secured victory on the strength of Shalu and Longjing (龍井) districts, where he took 55.32 and 52.92 percent, respectively. But even in the strongholds, vote share had slipped from the senior Yen's 60-plus percent in 2012.
The Taichung Election Commission reported a turnout rate of 48.89 percent in the district, which has a total of 275,086 registered voters.
Ballot counting showed Yen and Chen in a cliffhanger race, each overtaking the other multiple times after polls closed at 4 p.m.
At 5:30 p.m., a confident Yen proclaimed himself the victor, defying the running count that showed him trailing Chen by over 1,000 votes.
Before all ballots were counted, Yen correctly forecast that his share would exceed 66,000 votes, which ensures his victory. He thanked his father, who “has campaigned many times but has never fought a battle as tough as this.”
The election was extremely close but he still achieved a victory — a victory that is also a victory for the people, said a tearful Yen, adding that he will “work harder to stand with the common folk.”
Chen conceded defeat at 7 p.m., pledging to continue down the path of reform. Some in his camp requested a recount, which the election commission said was unjustified.
The KMT's Taichung chapter said the younger Yen's relatively slim margin of victory is due to a lesser turnout. National-level elections, such as that of the senior Yen in 2012, tend to draw more voters, according to chapter director Chiang Shih-liang (江世良).
KMT Legislator Tsai Chin-lung (蔡錦隆) said that Yen's margin of victory is a small but resounding vote of confidence for the government's reform program. The win is also “a slap in the face” to the DPP's “Fury” protest earlier January, said Tsai.
Meanwhile, the DPP headquarters said that the Taichung election mirrors a shift in public sentiment. Although Chen lost, the DPP has closed in dramatically on its loss margin, from nearly 20 percent to less than 1 percent.
“We believe that the people want change. It's very clear,” said DPP Secretary-General Lin Hsi-yao Lin Hsi-yao (林錫耀), who said he was citing party Chairman Su Tseng-chang.