Taipei-In one of the more closely-watched battles for legislative seats ahead of the Jan. 11 general elections, Kuomintang (KMT) incumbent Lee Yen-hsiu (???) will try to defend Taipei's fourth district against the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) Kao Chia-yu (???), a Taipei City councilor who has gained a national profile through her frequent appearances on political talk shows.
The seat is among 73 that are directly elected in constituencies by residents registered to vote there. Including seats for at-large and indigenous legislators, there are a total of 113 seats in Taiwan's Legislative Yuan that will be up for election alongside the presidential race on the same day.
While District 4 -- which is comprised of Taipei's eastern Neihu and Nangang districts -- is seen as favoring the KMT, Lee only narrowly won the seat in 2016, defeating People First Party candidate Huang Shan-shan (???) by a 42-40 percent margin, in a race which the DPP did not contest.
Since joining the legislature, however, Lee has earned attention as one of a new generation of KMT lawmakers, who have bucked party leadership with progressive stances on issues such as marriage equality.
Another likely electoral asset is Lee's family history in Nangang District, which both her father and grandfather represented as Taipei City councilors.
Despite these advantages, Lee faces a strong challenge from Kao, who has sought to expand on the DPP's limited base in the area by courting centrist voters, including those who supported Huang in 2016.
In order to do this, Kao has emphasized her ability to work across party lines, holding talks with Foxconn founder and erstwhile KMT presidential hopeful Terry Gou (???), and leveraging her reputation as an ally of Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (???), whose newly-formed Taiwan People's Party helpfully declined to nominate a challenger in District 4.
While these efforts have drawn criticism from some in the DPP, they have given Kao the chance to reframe the race in her own terms, as "a battle between those who support [KMT presidential nominee] Han Kuo-yu (???) and those who don't."
With both parties expecting a close race, Kao's chances could hinge on "national" factors, including the presidential election results and her success in using her well-known personal brand to win over centrist voters.
On the other hand, Lee's strength at the local level -- both in terms of the KMT's demographic advantage and her family's deep connection to the area -- could help her hold onto the seat against her high-profile challenger.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel