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Eric Chu consents to re-election run: report

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A local evening newspaper yesterday suggested that New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) has consented to a request by President and KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou to seek a second term.

Chu intends to assist the KMT in defending its hold on New Taipei City and will contend in the upcoming mayoral elections, according to an unnamed senior ruling party lawmaker as quoted by the United Evening News (UDN). While the lawmaker stated that Chu has not provided details of whether he will vie for the presidency in 2016, Chu will likely apply for a leave of absence to contest for the presidency after securing his re-election as the mayor of New Taipei City.

According to reports, the choice of Chu's current right-hand man, New Taipei City Deputy Mayor Ho Yo-yi (侯友宜), is questioned by the KMT. The ruling party's doubts on Ho's ability to secure the New Taipei City mayoral election is the main motivation behind the decision to have Chu seek a second term, the UDN suggsted. Political commentators stated that the ruling party is apprehensive about the prospect that Chu may vacate the strategically important New Taipei City mayoral post to contest for the 2016 presidency. Such a development would pose as a significant setback for the ruling party, similar to the fall of Chiayi to the pan-green faction when Chen Sui-bian ascended to the presidency, said political commentators.

Meanwhile, citing the need to maintain the party's procedural requirements and fairness, President Ma Ying-jeou has remained silent on the KMT's choice of candidates for the 2016 presidential election, as both Chu and current Vice President Wu Den-yih remain likely contenders.

Despite the lack of confirmation from President Ma Ying-jeou, the lawmaker stated that Chu is likely to contend in the 2016 presidential elections. In addition, the lawmaker added that Chu's apprehension in seeking a second term is to avoid gaining a reputation as a mayor who neglects his post to vie for the presidency. The lawmaker however, noted that these concerns are not critical, as opposition party leader Tsai Ying-wen (蔡英文) shrugged off similar accusations during her bid to become mayor of New Taipei City as the 2012 presidential election approached.

Most notably, the lawmaker stated that whether Chu will get a nod from the ruling party to pursue the presidency will be dependent on the outcome of the New Taipei City mayoral elections. If Chu does not deliver in the early skirmishes, he will likely not receive backing from the party in the final contest, said the lawmaker.

Recently, Chu had been making unreserved comments on national issues, such as controversies over the 12-year compulsory education program, demonstrating his ability to administer on a national level.

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