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Eric Chu elected Kuomintang chairman (update)
【Politics】2015-01-17  22:13:59
Taipei, Jan. 17 (CNA) New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) was elected chairman of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) in an uncontested by-election for party chairman on Saturday.

Chu, 53, is expected to assume the position on Monday and announce a new lineup of top-ranking party officials after he is sworn in.

Chu is one of the KMT's seven vice chairmen. Two others -- Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) and former Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) -- said Saturday they would quit their party posts.

According to the KMT, 349,374 people were eligible to vote in the election, and Chu garnered 196,065 votes. Turnout was 56.34 percent.

The KMT's legislative caucus said Chu's election will be a "big boost" for the party and its operations in the Legislature, noting that because Chu was once a legislator, he is well versed in the body's procedures and environment.

Alex Fai, the KMT party whip in the Legislature and director of the KMT Policy Committee, said Chu is smart, has ideals and is effective at putting his ideas into practice.

Chu has also served as vice premier and is familiar with local and central government affairs, Fai said.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) whip in Legislature Ker Chien-ming said Chu will face several challenges, including strengthening the party internally, polishing its image, settling inner-party conflicts, dealing with the president, figuring out how power will be shared, and working with the Legislature.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping, meanwhile, sent Chu a congratulatory message.

In his capacity as the general secretary of the Communist Party of China, Xi expressed the hope that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait could continue to stick to the 1992 consensus and oppose Taiwan independence in pushing for the peaceful development of cross-strait ties.

The 1992 consensus is a tacit agreement that acknowledges there is only "one China" but with the two sides free to interpret what that means.

Chu responded by saying the two parties have engaged in exchanges and cooperation in many circles over the past six years based on the "1992 consensus," bringing in a new era of peaceful cross-strait development.

He called for the two sides to "seek common ground and respect differences," continue to work to narrow the psychological distance across the Taiwan Strait, and expand exchanges.

Chu did not get as many votes as did Ma Ying-jeou when Ma won re-election as KMT chairman in 2013 with 202,750 votes.

But only 765 invalid votes were cast in this by-election, compared with 17,996 in 2013, meaning that Chu won 99.61 percent of the votes cast, the highest since the KMT first had members vote for the party's chairman in 2001.

Turnout in most cities and counties around Taiwan was over 60 percent, including 70 percent in New Taipei. But turnout in the KMT's traditional stronghold of Taipei was only 38.91 percent, a potentially worrying sign for the party.

The election was called after Ma stepped down as party chairman shortly after the KMT suffered a crushing defeat in the Nov. 29 local elections in which it won only six of Taiwan's 22 cities and counties.

(By Wen Kuei-hsiang, Claudia Liu and Lilian Wu)
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