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KMT and DPP face rifts ahead of elections in Hsinchu

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- National Policy Advisor to the President Cheng Yung-chin (鄭永金) yesterday resigned from his post to declare his participation in the upcoming Hsinchu magisterial election, creating an internal party split for the Kuomintang (KMT), much like the difficulty the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is currently facing with the Hsinchu mayoral election candidacy declaration of Tsai Jen-chien (蔡仁堅).

Cheng, who had previously served as KMT Hsinchu County magistrate for a full eight-year term, announced that he has stepped down from his position as national policy advisor to the president to run as an independent candidate against incumbent Hsinchu County Magistrate and fellow KMT member Chiu Ching-chun (邱鏡淳), who will be running for re-election.

Reportedly, rumors of Cheng's intention to run for magistrate have long been circulating within the county. In his various interviews on the issue, Cheng had usually refrained from answering the question directly, only stating that he will follow the voice of the people. Cheng will officially announce his independent magisterial candidacy today.

Cheng's independent status will mark a party rift with the KMT, his former party. Former KMT Secretary-General Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權) had allegedly implored Cheng to change his decision in July to no avail.

The magisterial election will be yet another of many political battles Chen and Chiu will share, as both had run against each other for the same position before. The election was eventually won by former Magistrate DPP Lin Kwang-hua (林光華) for a four-year term before Cheng succeeded in winning his tenure. Cheng also openly supported Hsinchu County Councilwoman Chang Pi-chin (張碧琴) to run against Chiu for his current magisterial term.

In response to Cheng's decision and correlating resignation, President Ma Ying-jeou stated during the KMT's Central Standing Committee that he feels it is an unfortunate situation, one that the KMT will continue to negociate with Cheng.

DPP Faces Similar Challenge for Hsinchu City Mayoral Election

The DPP's Tsai, who had previously served a single term as Hsinchu mayor, declared his intention to run again on behalf of the DPP for the position on Tuesday. However, Tsai's decision has been reported to be against the general consensus and strategy of the DPP.

Reportedly, the DPP has strategized to recruit independent politician Hsieh Wen-chin (謝文進) to run against incumbent KMT Hsinchu Mayor Hsu Ming-Tzai's (許明財) re-election campaign with the same approach the party currently has with independent Taipei mayoral hopeful Ko Wen-je (柯文哲). Following Hsu's alleged indirect responses the DPP at one point reportedly considered DPP member Lin Chih-chien (林智堅) as a candidate.

With Tsai's declaration, the DPP's plans have reportedly been disrupted. When questioned if he could face party disciplinary actions, Tsai told reporters that he is a founding member of the DPP, and that his decision to run for mayor to complete his unfinished term will not be reversed.

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