Recalled Legislator Chen vows to win in 'next election'

10/23/2021 10:58 PM
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CNA photo Oct. 23, 2021
CNA photo Oct. 23, 2021

Taipei, Oct. 23 (CNA) Legislator Chen Po-wei (陳柏惟) of the pro-independence Taiwan Statebuilding Party (TSP), who lost an unprecedented recall vote Saturday, vowed to make a comeback by winning "the next election."

Speaking to his supporters while standing in front of a vote-counting station in Taichung's Wuri District, Chen said he tried his best to defend himself against the recall.

Despite the results, "I do not think I have lost. I still have time to plan for the next election and aim to secure victory," Chen said.

In the recall election Saturday, a total of 77,899 people voted to recall Chen, surpassing the threshold of 73,744, or one-quarter of 294,976 eligible voters in the second electoral district of Taichung, which covers the areas of Shalu, Longjing, Dadu, Wuri and Wufeng, according to the Central Election Commission (CEC).

Ballots supporting Chen's recall surpassed the 73,433 votes opposing the recall, the second threshold required for the recall vote to prevail, under the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act.

Chen Po-wei speaks to supporters after conceding in the recall vote.

The China-friendly Kuomintang (KMT), the largest opposition party in the Legislature, had supported the recall of Chen, while the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) had campaigned in support of the legislator.

While Chen did not provide details about his next campaign, an elected government official who has been recalled is not allowed to run as a candidate for the same kind of position for four years after being removed from the position under the recall act.

The next legislator elections could be held in early 2024, less than the four-year threshold stipulated by the recall act. However, the nearest local elections for city mayors, county magistrates, and councilors are scheduled for 2022.

Chen's political career started in 2018, when he jumped into the Kaohsiung City councilor elections. While he lost that election, Chen earned some fame as a vocal critic of the KMT mayoral candidate Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜).

After Han won the election to become Kaohsiung mayor, Chen honored his pledge before the vote to move away from Kaohsiung if Han won.

In 2020, Chen was supported by both the TSP and the DPP to enter a legislator election in Taichung, where he then pulled off a narrow upset against then-incumbent Yen Kuan-heng (顏寬恆) of the KMT, the scion of a local political dynasty.

Eric Chu (朱立倫), the chairman of the KMT, campaigned for the recall of Chen after he assumed his post on Oct. 5. He had listed the recall vote as one of his top priorities.

KMT chairman Eric Chu speaks at the party headquarters in Taipei after the recall vote results are announced. CNA photo Oct. 23, 2021
KMT chairman Eric Chu speaks at the party headquarters in Taipei after the recall vote results are announced. CNA photo Oct. 23, 2021

After Chen lost the recall, Chu hailed the voters in the second district of Taichung for their efforts to oust the lawmaker, describing the legislator as an arrogant person, who always used anti-China slogans to deepen rifts and arouse confrontation among people in Taiwan to gain political favor.

Following the successful recall Saturday, Chu said the KMT will look toward the national referendum on four issues scheduled for Dec. 18.

The national referendum, comprising four questions, is the first to be held independent of central or local government elections, based on Taiwan's amendment of its Referendum Act in 2019.

According to the amendment, referendums may be held every two years, on the fourth Saturday of August, starting in 2021. The upcoming referendum seeks to revoke that law so referendums could again be held concurrently with general elections.

The other three referendum questions are about the protection of a coastal algal reef, the importation of pork containing traces of the livestock drug ractopamine, and the fate of the long-mothballed Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei.

In response to Chen's recall, DPP spokesman Liu Kang-yen (劉康彥) blasted the KMT for its efforts in pushing for the recall as revenge against a political rival and said the recall lacked merit.

Such a move by the KMT harms the country's democracy, Liu said as he urged the opposition to stop.

Liu pointed out the recall only required 73,433 votes to remove Chen, who won 112,839 votes in the 2000 election.

The recall campaign was initiated by Yang Wen-yuan (楊文元), who voted for Chen in 2020. The recall petition obtained enough signatures and secured approval from the CEC on July 2.

Yang Wen-yuan (center, in black), who initiated the recall campaign, speaks in Taichung after the recall vote results are announced. CNA photo Oct. 23, 2021
Yang Wen-yuan (center, in black), who initiated the recall campaign, speaks in Taichung after the recall vote results are announced. CNA photo Oct. 23, 2021

Yang has accused Chen of neglecting his constituency, behaving outrageously in the Legislature and on social media, and supporting the government's decision to lift a ban on U.S. pork imports containing the livestock drug ractopamine.

On Saturday, Max, a spokesman for the recall campaign, said the recall had nothing to do with the contest between the DPP and KMT but was merely aimed at ousting a lawmaker who was unqualified.

Max said the result showed Taiwan's democracy had taken a big leap, urging the DPP, the KMT and other political parties to name qualified candidates for future elections.

After Saturday's recall vote against Chen, the focus will be on a petition to recall independent Legislator Freddy Lim (林昶佐), which is already underway. Lim is supported by the DPP.

(By Kuo Chien-shen, Liu Kuan-ting, Wen Kuei-hsiang, Chao Li-yen and Frances Huang)

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