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Talk of the Day -- Student movement's impact on local elections

2014/04/08 19:38:05

Lawyer Wellington Koo (center) is greeted at the March 30 rally.

Protesters who have been occupying the Legislative Yuan's main chamber since March 18 announced Monday their decision to withdraw, along with a plan to reach out to the wider public of Taiwan.

The protesters, mainly students, have paralyzed legislative operations and organized a mass rally March 30, in which they claim half a million people took part, to voice their opposition to a service trade agreement between Taiwan and China.

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng promised Sunday to leave the trade pact aside until a law scrutinizing accords signed across the Taiwan Strait -- one of the demands of the protesters -- is passed.

The following are excerpts of an article in the Tuesday edition of the United Evening News, which examines the possible impact of the student movement on the elections for local government heads and councilors later this year:

The ruling Kuomintang (KMT) might face a challenging political environment following the student movement in the short term, and it does not necessarily bode well for the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), either.

It is too early to determine the impact of the nearly month-long protest on the elections to be held in late November, since campaigns at the local level are more about non-political factors, including networks and emotional ties.

With the protesters mainly targeting lawmakers in their campaign, the attacks might actually help the KMT gain support in its traditional strongholds.

One KMT insider pointed out that even DPP mayors and magistrates do not oppose the service trade pact with China.

One race likely to experience some impact is the mayoral campaign in Taipei, with lawyer Wellington Koo -- a candidate in the DPP's Taipei mayoral primary -- seeing growing support after he offered to help the protesters with any legal troubles.

Koo also stole some of the spotlight from independent candidate Ko Wen-je, who had been seen as a front-runner in the opposition camp prior to the student movement. (April 8, 2014)

(By Kay Liu)
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(Click here for a timeline of major developments since the Legislature occupation started March 18.)